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Presented By: School of Music, Theatre & Dance

Orpheus in the Underworld (Orphée aux enfers)

The Department of Voice & the University Symphony Orchestra

Orpheus in the Underworld (Orphée aux enfers) Orpheus in the Underworld (Orphée aux enfers)
Orpheus in the Underworld (Orphée aux enfers)
The Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice has been retold in many different forms over the years – but no adaptation has been quite like this. This comic operetta by French composer Jacques Offenbach is a satirical twist on one of the most enduring love stories of all time, and it features one of the best-known pieces of music in the world: the “Galop infernal,” the instantly familiar and most famous example of can-can music.

Orpheus in the Underworld finds Orpheus and Eurydice married, yet estranged. Neither is too bothered when a snake bite sends Eurydice to the Underworld – Orpheus is too busy with his female pupils, while Eurydice has fallen in love with Pluto, lord of the Underworld, and is pleased to join him. An intervention by Public Opinion finally sends Orpheus on his legendary journey to bring Eurydice back.

Sung in French with dialogue in English.

Orpheus in the Underworld premiered on October 21, 1858, at the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens in Paris.

Operetta composed by Jacques Offenbach
Libretto by Hector Crémieux and Ludovic Halévy
Conductor TBD
Directed by Mo Zhou

FUN FACTS: The work was originally structured in two acts, though Offenbach later expanded it into four acts.

When Offenbach’s opera premiered, critics expressed shock, both because it mocked Gluck’s revered telling of the tale and because it dismissed the idea of the perfection of ancient Greece. Audiences, however, loved it, and within a few years Orpheus in the Underworld became an international success. So marked was the opera’s fame, and so lasting, that in 1886 Camille Saint-Saëns satirized the satire by quoting the finale’s cancan at a much slower tempo and assigning it to tortoises in The Carnival of the Animals (1886).
(from Brittanica)

This was Offenbach’s first full-length operetta – prior to this, theatrical licensing laws had restricted him to only four singers, which was not enough to sustain a full opera. The licensing laws relaxed in 1858.
Orpheus in the Underworld (Orphée aux enfers) Orpheus in the Underworld (Orphée aux enfers)
Orpheus in the Underworld (Orphée aux enfers)


  • Reserved Seating $30/$24 | Students $13 with ID

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