Orpheus in the Underworld

Classical music

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  • Sunday, March 15, 2020, 12:00 AM

Love beyond the grave? A perfect love? Not at all! Eurydice arranges to meet her lover, while Orpheus has a roving eye. When wife, just as in the classical Greek myth, finds herself in hell (where she mainly suffers… from boredom), and her husband grudgingly sets off to her rescue. And gods? They twiddle their thumbs, demand changes to the Olympian menu (“Be gone, ambrosia!”) and hold wild parties at the first opportunity. Diana kicks her bare legs in a wild gallop as part of THAT cancan, Pluto clumsily tries to conceal his earthly prize from the rest of his family, Cupid works overtime as the leader of a squad of cupids armed to the teeth, while Jupiter would love to keep Eurydice for himself, which – meanwhile – Orpheus would be quite thrilled with…

In the wake of the premiere of Jacques Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld in Paris in 1858, the composer was accused of producing “vulgar and indecent scenes”. In the meantime, smart audiences have been enjoying the work for years – after all, isn’t laughter the best medicine for unbearable pathos, pompous sanctimoniousness and hypocrisy of the elites? The boisterous, sophisticated, mocking, brazen and provocative operetta was to premiere at the Kraków Opera in March 2020 (directed by Włodzimierz Nurkowski and with musical direction from Tomasz Tokarczyk). Alas, it had to be postponed due to the pandemic. The plan to perform it in October also wasn't successful. So, for the third time (third time's a charm): ready to cancan? (Barbara Skowrońska)

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