opera in three acts
composer: Christoph Willibald von Gluck (1714-1787)
libretto: Raniero da Calzabigi
first performance: Vienna, October 5, 1762
set and costume design: Fer Smidt, 1990
Orfeo, a singer; contralto or tenor
Euridice, his wife; soprano
Amor, the god of love; soprano
A happy shade; soprano
"Orfeo ed Euridice" is the oldest opera in standard repertoire,
dating from 1762. At his first performance the language was Italian,
and the role of Orfeo was sung by Gaetano Guadagni, a castrato
- that is a male alto. When, later on, the opera was given in
France, 1774, where castrati were not accepted on the stage, Gluck
rewrote the part for tenor.
Act 1 (in Arcady)
Orpheus' friends are mourning round the grave of Euridice, Orpheus'
wife. Orpheus sends them away, and sings of his own grief.
The god of love, Amor, appears and tells him to use his art
in order to gain entrance to the underworld to fetch her back.
He adds the condition that Orpheus may not look at Euridice
until they are back on earth.
Act 2, Scene 1 (a rocky landscape)
The furies bar Orpheus' entry into the underworld but he charms
them with his singing.
Scene 2 (the Elysian Fields)
In the Elysian Fields, Euridice is reconciled to eternal bliss.
She is reunited with Orpheus, who explains that she may return
to the world.
Act 3, Scene 1 (the Elysian Fields)
He sets of in front of her. Euridice does not understand why
he will not look at her, and begs him to turn 'round. Finally,
he turns and gazes at her. Euridice dies for the second time.
Orpheus sings of his grief, and then tries to kill himself.
Amor appears in time. He stops Orpheus and tells him that he
may be reunited with Euridice.
Scene 2 (the Temple of Love)
All sing the praise of Amor.
- the end -
- left side stage