Iphigénie en Tauride is a 4 act Opera composed by Christoph Willibald Gluck, first premiered at the Paris Opera on May 18th, 1779. This new and contemporary adaptation brings a fresh new view to not only a dramatic and timeless story but to the genre of Opera itself. Presented by the wonderful English Touring Opera that is currently travelling around the UK showing three Operas in a new and diverse way.
It takes place in the Temple of Diana at Tauris, somewhere where many have been held captive and exiled. It simple story and fantastic storytelling captivate audiences from the beginning. When Oreste and Pylade are shipwrecked on the island of Tauride, the king Thoas demands they be sacrificed. At the centre of the drama is Iphigénie: forced to live among her enemies, she holds Oreste’s life in her hands – unaware that he is her brother. Oreste and Pylade have a deep and meaningful friendship and it's shown they would die for each other. Iphigénie is somewhat of a tortured soul and doesn't cope with the pressure and advancing highlights of her life.
Iphigénie was played by the beautiful Catherine Carby, her performance excelled so in an incredible way that I've never seen done by an Opera. She interacted imaginatively with the other actors and you could see the deep struggle inside of her to deal with the brutal nature of what she's been put in. Grant Doyle (Orestes) was captivating and focused from the first moment we meet him, he had an awe inspiring solo where he spoke of how he would do anything for his friend, that did leave you stunned. John-Colyn Gyeantey (Pylades) the friend of Orestes and is brutally tortured throughout the production, his voice was sublime and brightened the theatre when signing in harmony with Doyle. Craig Smith (Thoas), the king of the Scythians who rule the area, he had a strong baritone voice and played the character with authority and drive. The peace and serenity Jenna Harwood (Diana) brings to the stage is wonderful and brings a brighter touch.
The production really does spark a new fire for Opera to the younger generation that are lucky enough to see it. From the start of the production the lightning strikes and the drama unfolds into a complex and difficult genre of Greek mythology, gods and sacrifice. The costumes, being contemporary and unlike 'Classic' Opera, worked marvellously and gave the audience a more relatable production, all down to the wonderful work of Anna Fleischile. It was wonderfully brought together and the staging was magnificent and powerful with the relatively small cast performing together - huge congratulations to James Conway on this impressive staging. Do not shy away from these kinds of productions! They are full of all the drama and shocking content you could ever wish for, in addition to the spectacular voices from the ETO. A first class Opera, an absolute must see for everyone.
Reviewer: Brad Wilson
Reviewed: 13th May 2016