Opera Scotland

Descent of Orpheus to the Underworld La descente d’Orphée aux enfers

Music

Marc-Antoine Charpentier (born Paris, 1643; died Paris, 24 February 1704)

Text

Anon

Source

Classical Latin poem Metamorphoses by Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso)

 

Premieres

First Performance: Not known for certain - probably Paris or Fontainebleau, c1686.

First Performance in UK: tbc.

First Performance in Scotland: Alloway (Robert Burns Birthplace Museum), 15 August 2015.

 

Characters

Euridice (soprano)

Aréthuse, a nymph (soprano)

Enone, a nymph (soprano)

Orphée, son of Apollo (tenor)

Apollon, god of poetry and music (baritone)

Ixion, a condemned criminal (soprano)

Tantale, a condemned criminal (tenor)

Titye, a condemned criminal (baritone)

Pluton, king of the Underworld (bass)

Proserpine, queen of the Underworld (soprano)

 

Plot Summary

The plot is similar to that of the earlier treatment by Monteverdi and the later by Gluck, as well as many others.

Oirpheus and Euridice are in the process of celebrating their marriage when she is bitten by a snake and dies. Her grieving husband is persuaded by his father, the god Apollo, to make his way to the Underworld to rescue her. He goes, and employs his singing to persuade Pluto to release Euridice on the condition that he does not look back at her. A side benefit of his singing is to relieve the pain felt by Tantalus and others suffering eternal punishment.

The Cast

Apollon
 god of poetry and music
Aréthuse
 a nymph
Enone
 a nymph
Euridice
 
Ixion
 a condemned criminal
Orphée
 son of Apollo
Pluton
 king of the Underworld
Proserpine
 queen of the Underworld
Tantale
 a condemned criminal
Titye
 a condemned criminal

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