“Shocking tales the rogue could tell.”
The Pirates of Penzance
Orpheus in the Underworld
October 27 to November 19, 2017
|Stage Director:||Lesley Hendrickson|
|Music Director:||Marina Liadova|
Orpheus in the Underworld was first performed in Paris in 1858, and reached London in 1865. Its success was one of the inspirations for the creation of a home-grown school of English operetta, and for Richard D’Oyly Carte’s pairing of Gilbert and Sullivan to accomplish it. Orpheus in the Underworld was revised in 1874 to the full four-act version with chorus, and achieved even greater popularity. The English adaptation we are using was created for the 1985 English National Opera production.
Sing out and praise suburban life, where dad presides over the barbeque and kids and wives run wild. Not even dreaded Public Opinion can keep this gang in line. In Act I, Eurydice is wooed away from her philandering husband, Orpheus, by an attractive stranger who turns out to be Pluto, Lord of the Underworld. Orpheus is delighted when the two run off together, but Public Opinion can’t allow it. She insists that Orpheus put up a front of moral outrage and demand his wife’s return. She will personally escort him up Mount Olympus to ask Jupiter to intervene.
Act II finds the Olympian gods and goddesses snoozing as Dr. Morpheus spreads this poppy dust – and the last few deities sneak back in after a night on the town. Dawn reveals that all is not serene up here either. When news of Eurydice’s abduction reaches Olympus, Juno assumes that Jupiter has been chasing mortal girls again. Mercury has evidence to point the finger at Pluto, who is summoned to defend himself. When Orpheus and Public Opinion finally arrive and confirm that Pluto is to blame, Jupiter promises to descend to Hades to find the girl. He makes himself popular by agreeing to take the whole pantheon of gods and goddesses with him for a little holiday.
Pluto manages to keep Eurydice hidden away down below, so Act III finds her bored and Jupiter increasingly frustrated. Convening the Infernal Court (with three blind justices and evidence from the three-headed dog Cerberus) fails to bring satisfaction. Cupid is ready to help, summoning the Love Police to find Eurydice. Jupiter assumes an unusual disguise to slip through the keyhole and woo Eurydice for himself.
In Act IV, Pluto’s wild party is just starting to get interesting when Public Opinion barges in, spoils the fun and puts everyone back on track to reunite Orpheus and Eurydice. Jupiter can’t let that happen. But who gets the girl? Well, Eurydice has her own ideas.
Jennifer LeDoux as Eurydice and
Nelle June Anderson as Eurydice
Jim Ahrens as Orpheus
The Orpheus and Eurydice Legend
Orpheus was so gifted a musician that wild beasts gathered around him entranced when he played his lyre. Shortly after marrying him, Eurydice was walking in a meadow when she was bitten by a viper and died. Grief-stricken, Orpheus resolved to rescue Eurydice from Hades. His music charmed the three-headed dog Cerberus, and when he sang of his woes, even the god Pluto listened. Eurydice was restored to him on the condition that he not look back at her as they climbed up out of the darkness to earth. Just as they neared the upper world, Orpheus turned back in a moment of forgetfulness. As she disappeared behind him, all he heard was her faint “Farewell.” He returned to the earth in utter desolation, where he played his lyre constantly until he was killed by a band of frenzied Bacchantes. Where his remains are buried, the nightingale sings more sweetly than anywhere else. Reunited with his beloved Eurydice in the Elysian Fields, Orpheus may gaze at her to his heart’s content.
Orpheus in the Underworld Review
An excellent internet resource for information about Orpheus in the Underworld: