United Fall

Orfeo ed Euridice by Christoph Willibald Von Gluck

Irish National Opera in co-production with United Fall

“It's a triumph for all...truly unmissable”  (Sunday Independent)

"..philosophy in motion, at times tricky, playful and intense" (Golden Plec)

"Martin creates the sublime out of grief in this empathy inducing extravaganza" (Irish independent)

Irish National Opera, a co-production with United Fall in partnership with Irish Baroque Orchestra

Presented in association with Galway International Arts Festival




Galway International Arts Festival 2018

Nationwide Tour February 2019

Cast & Creative Team


Orfeo Sharon Carty
Euridice Sarah Power
Amore Emma Nash


Soprano Emma Nash
Mezzo Soprano (Orfeo cover) Dominica Williams
Tenor Fearghal Curtis
Bass Matthew Mannion


Robyn Byrne
Stephanie Dufresne
Javier Ferrer Machin
Sophia Preidel

Creative Team

Director / Choreographer Emma Martin

Conductor Peter Whelan

Set Designer Sabine Dargent
Costume Designer Catherine Fay
Lighting Designer Stephen Dodd
Assistant Director Emmanuel Obeya
Irish National Opera Chorus
Irish Baroque Orchestra

Myths and dreams are from the same source. They come from within ourselves. Heaven, hell and all the Gods are there too. They manifest themselves in dreams and through the conflicting energies in our bodies.

I remember reading something about the vagus nerve which wanders from its roots in the brain all the way down to colon. It lights up like electricity when stimulated by the voice and by movement, and then travels outward into the surrounding environment.

Gluck wrote dance music into this opera in a way that was totally integral to the story, most of it anyway (we left out a few bits that felt superfluous). He pared everything back to the essentials. I learned that’s why it’s known as a reform opera. A reaction against the pretentiousness of the opera scene at the time. The score is beautiful, and sometimes feels like sacred music. This is my first time directing an opera and it was a real gift to pour myself into something so juicy and expansive. 

There’s not a lot of stuff out there about Eurydice. A bit like Mary Magdalene. She’s dead, and has already transcended the flesh. She’s not waiting to be rescued, she's blissed out where she is. But she is ‘it’. The ungraspable, omnipresent, and in this one she is the fabric of the visual world Sabine Dargent, Catherine Fay, Stephen Dodd and I dreamt up. We talked about the space being the feminine, about funeral parlour glamour, the female body, steamy hammams, St.Therese’s shower of roses.

During this process I got really obsessed with Joseph Campbell and Jung. I learned that in the territory of myth, dualities are blurred, divisions between male and female, good and bad, dark and light are non-existent. That caves are the womb of the earth. A hero’s journey is about transformation, like life, a journey from womb to tomb- return to the earth to be reborn. Apocalypse in Greek means ‘lifting the veil’. Just before we started rehearsals I had a crazy snake dream, where I was being chased by a giant yellow oily snake in a concrete tunnel underground. I’m not a fan of snakes, so it was actually a nightmare. Snake dreams are apparently your subconscious shouting at you. Myth dreams. 

The Orpheus and Eurydice myth is a lifting of the subconscious veil. It’s not really about Orpheus ‘getting’ Eurydice back. It’s about him going into the unknown, undergoing a kind of death. 

Emma Martin- July 2018