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Orfeo ed Euridice

Approximate running time


Willibad Ritter von Gluck. Gluck was strongly influenced by Parisian Opera and this is felt in Orfeo ed Euridice which was at the time in the 1760s considered quite radical.
He fused the influences of Italian and French opera together to produce an opera where the drama is more important than the star singers.
This is a mythological opera(azione teatrale)with chorus and dances and is the first of the reform operas which replaced complexity with simplicity. Because of this reform it is a very important and enjoyable opera.

Act 1

Orfeo grieves over the grave of his beautiful recently deceased young wife. He is acutely sad but hears the songs of shepherds and shepherdesses who place tributes on the grave.
He wishes to be left alone and asks them to leave him to his sorrow and torment. He curses the gods who have taken Euridice from him and resolves to go to the under world and retrieve her. Amor the god of love hears his cries and takes pity on him. He agrees to let him retrieve her on the condition that he does not look at her until they are safe in the over world. Orfeo sets out into Hades using his lyre at a shield.

Act 2

The Furies stand guard to the underworld and demand to know who is approaching. They refuse him entry until he plays his lyre and asks them to take pity on him and to let him pass. As Orfeo passes through the Elysian Fields he encounters blessed spirits who dance eloquently and he stops to appreciate their beauty. However, he expresses that only Euridice can ease his pain. The Shades hear him and lead Euridice to him. Although veiled he is careful not to look at her as he takes her hand and leads her back to the upper world.

Act 3

Orfeo quickly ushers his wife along but she becomes worried that her beauty is lost - after all her husband will not look at her. Euridice sings that she has been rescued only to find unrequited love.
Orfeo cannot stand her anguish and turns and embraces her. As he looks at her, she breaths her last farewell and dies. Distraught, Orfeo prepares to take his own life so he can join his wife. Before he can do this Amor appears and says that he has passed the test of faith and constancy and both can return live and well to the upper world. As they return their friends dance and celebrate and all profess the power of love.



Orfeo, alto castrato (Italian premiere),
haute-contre (high tenor, French premiere),
or mezzo-soprano (later)
Euridice - Soprano
Amor - Soprano

Chorus and dancers include shepherds and shepherdesses, friends of the couple, Shades, Furies and happy spirits.
Orfeo ed Euridice is set to a libretto by Ranieri de' Calzabigi which makes this a delightful opera for all ages with a happy ending.

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Orfeo ed Euridice | 3 Performances

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