THE ruins of the Rose Theatre is the setting for a new production of Christoph Willibald Gluck's epic opera Orpheus and Eurydice.
The piece is being directed by Pamela Schermann who says the Park Street theatre is the perfect space to stage the show.
"I directed Taming of the Shrew at the Rose last year and loved the space," she says. "It's massive, dark, incredibly atmospheric and quite eerie and with some of the foundations under the water it is the perfect place to create the underworld that features in the piece.
"When I pitched it to the Rose they agreed there couldn't be a better place to do it so here we are!"
The opera is based on the myth of Orpheus who goes to the Underworld to save his wife Eurydice. He manages to persuade the furies, softened by his music, to let Eurydice return with him, but there is one condition - Orpheus must walk in front of her and not look back until they both have reached the earth again.
The production will use the whole site as its stage by performing the first act on the platform in very close proximity to the audience, and parts of the second act within the site, which will be lit with candles and stage lights to create the underworld in which Orpheus has to descend.
"It's been every bit as good as I thought it would be," says Pamela. "It's very exciting. It's an incredible place and the audience is in for a really unique theatrical experience.
"Some of it will be performed in the watery ruins and there will be musicians too although they will be hidden from view until the end."
As well as the professional opera singers who will perform the soloist parts of Orpheus, Eurydice and Amor, and the eight-strong opera choir, the production is also showcasing the talents of a group of local residents who answered a call by the company to audition to take part in it.
"We asked members of the local community in Southwark to take part in this production by inviting them to free workshops on acting and singing, and performing in the opera alongside professional singers," says Pamela.
"We wanted to show that opera is not just for a big opera house but can and should be accessible to everyone and anyone from any background.
"From the workshops we now have 12 people who do the shows on a rotating basis. It's been a fascinating process to see them grow and develop in their singing and confidence. They've really embraced it and it's also been a great experience for the professional singers too.
"It's a beautiful piece, a great story, and I hope people will take a chance to come and see it in all its glory."
Orpheus and Eurydice is on at the Rose Theatre, Park Street, from now until June 28. Tickets £16. Call the box office on 0207 261 9565 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for tickets.