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Photo: Thomas Huther
Theater Kassel, 1999, Director: Wolf Widder

Offenbach - Keck

Orphée aux Enfers (OEK critical edition: 1858 version) (1858)

(Orpheus in der Unterwelt / Orpheus in the Underworld)
Duration: 150 minutes
Opéra-bouffon in two acts (four scenes)

Libretto by Hector Crémieux (with the collaboration of Ludovic Halévy); original German version by Ludwig Kalisch; new German versions by Wolfgang Quetes, Günter Selling and Wolfgang Böhmer; new English version by Richard Duployen (F,G,E)

5S,2M,4T,Bar,B,actor; chorus; ballet; 2(I,II=picc).1.2.1-2.2.1(or3).0-timp.perc(1):BD/cym/tamb/tgl-strings.
Abbreviations (PDF).

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.

World Premiere
Salle Choiseul, Paris
Company: Unknown

World premiere of version
Tiroler Landestheater, Innsbruck
Brigitte Fassbaender, director
Conductor: Georg Schmöhe
Company: Ensemble Tiroler Landestheater


JUPITER, father of the godsLow Tenor or high Baritone
JUNO, his spouseSoprano or Mezzo-Soprano
BACCHUS, god of wineActor or Singer
DIANA, goddess of huntingSoprano
MARS, god of warBass
MINERVA, goddess of wisdomSoprano
VENUS, goddess of loveSoprano
CUPID, Venus's sonSoprano
MERCURY, messenger of the godsTenor
ARISTEUS, a shepherd / PLUTO, ruler of the underworldTenor
JOHN STYX, Pluto's factotumTenor or high Baritone
ORPHEUS, a music teacherTenor, a violinist, if possible
EURYDIKE, his spouseSoprano
Gods, goddesses, etc.

Time and Place
The surroundings of Thebes; in the Olymp; in the underworld. Antiquity.

The married life of Orpheus and Eurydike is far from being a classical one. Eurydike has had enough of her husband, a violin virtuoso and director of the conservatory of Thebes, and has given up hiding her affair with the shepherd Aristeus. Aristeus, however, is in truth Pluto, the lord of the underworld, who stages a tragic death for Eurydike so he can take his loved one down to Hades. Orpheus feels relieved, for now he can fully devote himself to his female pupils. But at that point, Public Opinion steps in. After all, the good reputation of classical antiquity is at stake, so he asks the characters to keep to the mythology. Thus Orpheus, like it or not, is ordered to call at Mount Olympus and to lodge a complaint against Pluto.

Comic, Poetic

Mythology, Politics, Society

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