Most recent performance
There are currently no scheduled performances of Orphée et Eurydice. It was last on stage 14 September—3 October 2015 as part of the Autumn 2015/16 season.
The great musician Orphée mourns the death of his wife Eurydice. Amour, the god of love, tells Orphée that the gods have granted him permission to journey down to Hades. If he can calm the Furies with his music, he may lead Eurydice back to the land of the living – on the condition that he never once look back at her on their journey.
Read more… (Contains spoilers)
The Italian Orfeo ed Euridice was the first of Gluck’s great ‘reform’ operas. In it, he and his librettist Ranieri de’ Calzabigi sought to move away from the complicated plots and ornate music of opera seria, in favour of a ‘noble simplicity’, where music always drives the story. The opera’s premiere at the Vienna Burgtheater on 5 October 1762 was a great success – so much so that Gluck himself revised the opera for the French premiere at the Paris Opéra on 2 August 1774 as Orphée et Eurydice. It is longer, larger and grander; Gluck extended movements, added new ones and revised the orchestration to suit the forces of the Opéra. He also recast the role of Orpheus from alto castrato to the haute-contre of French opera, a very high tenor. The opera remains Gluck’s most popular work, and a landmark in operatic history.
Orphée et Eurydice includes some of Gluck’s most loved music, from Orphée’s tender ‘Objet de mon amour’ and ‘J’ai perdu mon Eurydice’ to the spectacular ‘L’espoir renaît dans mon âme’, added for the French premiere. The chorus also assumes a role of great importance, particularly in their roles as the shades and Furies of the underworld. But the opera is perhaps most celebrated for its innovative dance music; two of its many highlights include the ‘Dance of the Furies’ and the ‘Dance of the Blessed Spirits’. In this new production for The Royal Opera, acclaimed choreographer Hofesh Shechter, who made his debut with The Royal Ballet in the 2014/15 Season, makes his operatic debut in collaboration with Associate Director of Opera John Fulljames (La donna del lago, Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny).
News and features
30 September 2015
The Peruvian tenor discusses the profound emotional power of Gluck’s opera and his past life as a pop star.
24 September 2015
A taster of John Fulljames and Hofesh Shechter's acclaimed new production starring Juan Diego Flórez.
15 September 2015
What did you think of John Fulljames and Hofesh Shechter's production of Gluck's opera?
15 September 2015
Why does he look back? The Royal Opera’s five Orpheus works this year each give very different answers.
14 September 2015
The dancers describe the challenges and opportunities of working with opera for the first time.
Remixing in the age of Baroque: How and why Gluck transformed Orfeo ed Euridice into Orphée et Eurydice11 September 2015
Gluck made significant changes when he adapted his opera for Paris – some of them controversial.