14 September 2015 at 4.06pm | 4 Comments
Acclaimed Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter makes his operatic debut with The Royal Opera’s new production of Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice, co-directed by Hofesh and The Royal Opera’s Associate Director John Fulljames. For many of the dancers in the opera, drawn from the Hofesh Shechter Company and its affiliated apprentice programme Shechter Junior, Orphée is also their first operatic experience: during rehearsals Kenny Wing Tao Ho from Shechter Junior summarizes, ‘I never saw opera, I never danced in opera – it’s my first time to be involved in anything to do with opera’.
Perhaps the biggest difference is the music: Hofesh usually composes his own music, so working with Gluck’s score has been quite a change. Winifred Burnet-Smith, HSC dancer and rehearsal assistant, says, ‘usually [with Hofesh] the music kind of goes along with the movement. So now you’re bound to the music’. Frédéric Despierre, HSC dancer and rehearsal assistant, thinks it’s a good fit: ‘It’s quite easy to go over the top with music so epic and so powerful, and with Hofesh’s style we always try to bring it down to a more natural, more organic way of moving. I think it brings a bit more of a human feeling.’
Many of the dancers have enjoyed working with the Monteverdi Choir. Frédéric explains, ‘We’re used to having a bit of live music with our shows but this is completely different, to have 35 singers literally amongst us. It’s very powerful’. Being among the singers has even affected the way the dancers move, as Kenny adds: ‘I find, especially when they do it live with us, at the end of each phrase there’s a moment of breath and it’s always a bit different, it can vary – so it’s always a challenge to really listen and say, ok, this is when they’re going to go into the next phrase.’
Being part of a larger story has also been a change, as Anna Stamp Moller from Shechter Junior explains: ‘you have to work in a different way. I’m sure Hofesh had to twist his brain a bit around to follow the storyline.’ But there’s still room for free interpretation, she adds: ‘That’s what I like about this creation, I don’t think we show what [the chorus and soloists] sing. We try to maybe show a different side of what is being said.’
Orphée et Eurydice runs 14 September–3 October 2015. Tickets are still available.
The production is staged with generous philanthropic support from Mrs Aline Foriel-Destezet, and is part of #Hofest.