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Offenbach
Orpheus in the Underworld
Operetta in 2 Acts. (Original version of 1858)
(3 act version with additional chorus also available)
Libretto by Hector Cremieux and Ludovic Halevy.
English Version by Ian Gledhill and Michael Withers.

SYNOPSIS
Orpheus and his wife Eurydice row over her lover, the shepherd, Aristeus. Eurydice warns Aristeus about a trap Orpheus has set for him. Aristeus is in reality Pluto, God of the Underworld, and he lures Eurydice into the trap instead. She is bitten by a snake and dies, whereupon Pluto carries her off to Hades. Orpheus’s delight at his wife’s departure is cut short by Public Opinion, a formidable Mrs. Grundy-like figure, who insists he goes to Olympus to demand the return of his wife. On Olympus the gods are rebelling against Jupiter’s tyrannical rule, but they are interrupted by the arrival of Orpheus with Public Opinion. In a fit of righteous indignation Jupiter grants the return of Eurydice, and when he announces that he will go to the Underworld himself to ensure justice is done, the gods all beg to go too. Jupiter agrees, and the entire company look forward to a holiday in Hades. Meanwhile in the Underworld Eurydice is bored with being left alone, so when a diversion arrives, in the shape of Jupiter disguised as a fly, she is at first eager to run away with him. They plan to escape at a party being held by Pluto in honour of the visiting gods from Olympus. Eurydice comes disguised as a bacchante, which brings her to the attention of Bacchus. The arrival of Orpheus looks like upsetting everyone’s plans, but Jupiter manages to trick him out of Eurydice for good. But who is to have her instead, Pluto or Jupiter? Eurydice settles it by choosing Bacchus, and everyone rejoices in a final dance and chorus.





2 flutes (2 piccs.), 1 oboe, 2 clarinets, 1 bassoon,
2 horns, 2 trumpets, 1 trombone,
percussion,

strings.

Orchestration

The countryside near Thebes

Mount Olympus

Pluto’s boudoir

Hades

Act One, scene 1:
Act One, scene 2:

Act Two, scene 3:
Act Two, scene 4:

Settings

Gods and Goddesses. (SATTBB) 50%

Chorus

Juno (soprano)
Minerva (soprano)
Hebe (soprano)

Mercury (tenor)
Mars (bass)
Apollo (tenor)
Bacchus (dancer)

Lesser Roles

Eurydice (soprano)
Public Opinion (mezzo-soprano)
Diana (soprano)
Cupid (soprano)
Venus (mezzo)

Orpheus (tenor)
Pluto (tenor)
Jupiter (baritone)
Styx (baritone)

Major Roles