Tim Myers has written a very thoughtful piece on versions of the Orpheus myth for the Los Angeles Review of Books. I am thrilled that he has particularly singled out my image which was designed for the poster promoting Opera Ireland's production of Orpheo Ed Eurydice at the Gaiety in Dublin.
You can read Tim's piece here, but in the meantime, here's an excerpt.
But in one contemporary image, a 2004 poster (see illustration above) done by Irish illustrator P. J. Lynch for Gluck’s opera, I found a deeper way to understand the story.
Lynch exemplifies how some interpretations, working with rather than against the story, can be revelatory. For he, like 18th-century Danish painter Kratzenstein-Stub and 17th-century Italian painter Varotari before him, gives curvilinear movement to the moment of the turn. Eurydice, veiled in voluminous shroud-like white, reaches half-skeletal hands toward Orpheus; we can almost hear her anguished howl. Inches away, Orpheus simultaneously reaches for her even as his eyes seem to register the futility of it all — for without her he’s as much a dead soul as she is, even in the living world.
And yet they see nothing in the universe except each other. And the sinuous lines of their bodies, their clothes, even of the cavern-mouth itself, wordlessly sing of a oneness of life and death beneath their present helplessness. That power, of course, is love, greater even than the astonishing power of music that gave Orpheus entry into Death’s kingdom to begin with. This is sacred mystery at its highest level, and Lynch’s understated impulse jibes perfectly with what we all feel beneath our vicarious heartbreak in that moment."