On the opening night of the three-day classical music soirée known as Festival Classique in The Hague, I was invited to Nicole Beutler’s rendition of Austrian composer Christoph Willibald Glucks’ astonishing Orpheus and Eurydice. The tear-jerker of an opera, first performed in Vienna in 1762, has made it over the waves of the Scheveningen beach more than 600 miles away and two centuries later.
With the spectacular setting sun as a backdrop, the sand as a sensational stage and nature as a soundscape choreographer, curator and theatre maker Nicole Buetler, also Austrian, presented her epic show. The creator and director of the Amsterdam-based company Nicole Buetler Project created a huge spectacle – a StrandOpera. Her desire to construct a space in which to exchange ideas beyond the established disciplines of theatre making manifested itself as a seventy-minute harmony for the tragic Greek myth.
The Nicole Beutler Projects seeks a better society and invites a critical reflection on experience of the human existence. In an interview, she has expressed how, “it is her responsibility as an artist to open up new spaces in our thinking, both socially and artistically” while coaxing that together we can change the world in the name of Love.
While Beutler’s production lit a fire in everyone to live a life with more compassion this manifestation was unfortunately quite underwhelming. Although the background was a beautiful touch, the soundscape did not seem to travel well across the coastline.
No less than 200 amateur singers graced the stage adorned in white dress which appeared to be relatively tatty and while the message behind Beutlers’ piece was one of progression it came across as quite laid-back, maybe because it was the second performance of the night.
As the myth goes, both Orpheus and Eurydice pass to the underworld where they reunite but in Beutlers’ interpretation of the story the two survive entwined in each other’s arms in the human realm. A fairy tale ending in which hope in a world where hate and cancel culture thrive beyond belief and where love conquers all. Beutlers’ message is especially prolific in a time where we all need each other more than ever as we are confronted with a world whose headline act is ‘Crisis’. Eva Lakeman 16th June 2023