Opus | Circa and Debussy String QuartetPhoto – Justin Nicholas

There’s nothing quite like an ensemble of exceptionally skilled circus artists to make one feel completely physically inadequate one minute, and then struck dumb with awe the next. Marry that with a sublime selection of Dmitri Shostakovich’s works performed by France’s renowned Debussy String Quartet and you have Opus, and it’s an absolute bliss-fest. 

Running for an hour and 20 minutes, Opus is a testament to how effectively melding two very different artforms can create a work that is engaging, mesmerising, and very beautiful. The sheer volume of breathtaking vignettes in the piece and gasps and cries of “Bravo!” they elicited from the opening night crowd support that in spades.

Incorporating expertly choreographed moments using aerial straps, trapeze, hooping, acrobalance and tumbling to the strains of Shostakovich’s Adagio (Elegy) for Strings and String Quartet No 11, 8 and 5,  the 13 strong Circa ensemble offer tales of isolation, love, and playful abandon.

Shostakovich’s music, brought to life by The Debussy String Quartet is powerful stuff. Brooding and sinister, and then peppered with light and hope – it’s excellent fodder for this kind of story-telling. Reimagined a hundred ways.

Opus is simplistic in its format, but what comes with that is the opportunity to play within the landscape. Magical, clever reveals of the ensemble, pulsating movement and performances that are at times haunting and, at others, playful and cheeky. Yaron Lifschitz’s choreography and direction gives the impression of a show that is frenzied and improvised, yet painstakingly mapped. It never allows the audience to be passive spectators, and it’s marvellous.  

The design of the show is seamless, clean and minimalistic, but Opus require no bells and whistles. It’s perfectly pitched.   

Circa are known world-wide for their ability take art of circus and elevate it to a whole new level, and this is no exception. It has a short season during this years’ Melbourne Festival, and we’re the poorer for it. Run and see it, if you can.

Circa and Debussy String Quartet present 

Arts Centre Melbourne | State Theatre
Dates: 17 – 19 Oct 2014
Tickets: $79 –  $25
Bookings: www.melbournefestival.com.au/opus/

Part of the 2014 Melbourne Festival

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