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The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Jorge Arroyo on lighting design for ‘Eurydice’

Nile Street Studios

Boston Lyric Opera’s “Eurydice,” which ran its stunning production from March 1 to 10, has received much acclaim due to its stellar performance and evocative staging, much of which was achieved through its innovative lighting. 

Jorge Arroyo, a member of the show’s creative team and a Boston-based lighting designer with over 25 years of experience in theater, dance, and opera uses lighting to tell stories, communicate emotions, and create audience connections through the shows he participates in. 

Originally from Puerto Rico, his work has been seen at theaters such as The Alley Theatre in Houston, The Huntington in Boston, and Carnegie Hall in New York City. He currently teaches lighting design at Boston University. “Eurydice” is one of the many shows he has worked on during the year. 

Referring to how the opera “Eurydice” will connect to fans of Sarah Ruhl’s original 2003 play, he said, “If you know the play, you know the opera.” 

The opera is condensed for time but follows the same story.

Arroyo spoke of how “Eurydice” originally premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in New York two years ago, with an “87-piece orchestration and a huge supporting chorus.” 

Boston Lyric Opera (BLO) was commissioned and worked to make its production a chamber version of “Eurydice”, with a reduced orchestra of 17 pieces and without the chorus. This version makes the opera more accessible for companies to produce the show. After its New York premiere, BLO was the first company to produce the show. 

“The story is the same, the music is the same, the essence and heart of the opera is the same,” Arroyo said. “But now it will be easier to produce across the country for other companies.” 

In terms of lighting, the show lights like a play, Arroyo said, adding that his main goal was to create a difference in lighting between the world above and the underworld. 

“The quality of light is totally different [in the two worlds],” Arroyo said. “There is a direct sourcing of light in the above world, more directionality to it. And the colors are colors of nature, but this a myth, so we’re not tied to reality.”

However, with the Underworld setting in the opera, sunlight can’t quite reach it, which makes it difficult to pinpoint where the light is coming from, he said. 

“The colors are muted, like a display in a store that has been there for a long time, and the colors have faded,” Arroyo said. “They don’t have the same vibrancy as the world above.”

“There’s an uninhibited quality to the world above; light enters and crosses through space,” he added. “In the Underworld, it feels like the light is fractured and broken up; [it] has texture.” 

Arroyo also reflected on how important storytelling moments are difficult because of the complex imagery. Creating these moments and doing them justice was his most significant challenge. 

The play, and therefore the opera, is known for images of straightforward elegance, such as the iconic elevator scene, in which Eurydice arrives at the Underworld in an elevator where it is raining, so she is pictured holding an umbrella. 

He said the scene is “as straightforward as it sounds,” and such images are handled by both lighting and costumes. 

Costuming especially created colors and palettes for each character, while Arroyo handled the overall arc of the story. 

“Hades is the exception,” he said, “since the space definitely reacts to Hades’ allure and power.”

BLO took a modern approach to the multi-layered show, he said. 

“We used contemporary resources for the characters, but we are out of reality, into the world of poetry and myth,” Arroyo said. “[The costumes] are clothes you could wear out, but the colors might be a bit different, a little elevated.”

Arroyo’s favorite part of the production process was his collaborative relationship with the director, Douglas Fitch.

“The director is also our costume designer and our scenic designer,” Arroyo said. “We were just dreaming together, and wanted to distill down to the essence of our ideas.”

One of the most interesting of those ideas involved the creation of the Stones, characters represented in the original play as talking stones who are a hallmark of this opera’s uniqueness and absurdist charm.

“I’m particularly tickled for people to see the Stones,” Arroyo added. “The costumes are amazing. They’re as larger than life, as Hades is.”

Arroyo emphasized how fun the material was for him to work with. 

“There’s a definite lightheartedness to it,” he said. “I hope that comes through to the audience.” 

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About the Contributor
Danielle Bartholet, Assistant Living Arts Editor
Danielle Bartholet has been passionate about writing as long as she can remember, writing on her high school newspaper and then for the Berkeley Beacon since 2023. She is currently a freshman at Emerson as a WLP major and a marketing communications minor. She is from Houston, TX, and enjoys reading and writing, as well theatre.

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