The opera "Orfee et Eurydice" is from the german composer Christoph Willibald Gluck.(1714-1787)
Eurydice, the young wife of Orpheus, has died shortly after their marriage from a snake bite. Before her tomb, which stands
in a grove of cypress and laurel trees, Nymphs and Shepherds conduct a funeral ceremony. Overcome by grief, the Thracian
singer can only repeat his beloved's name.
Left alone, he gives full voice to his despair in a moving air, to which the echoes of compassionate nature respond. But soon
his emotion turns to rage: appaled by Pluto's decrees, he determines to confront the infernal gods and wrest his wife from them.
Amor encourages him in his audacious plan and promises him success if only he will submit to Jupiter's decrees: on their journey
back to the earth he must not look at Eurydice or explain to her the reasons for his behaviour.
Momentarily dismayed by his condition, Orpheus regains courage and descends to the abode of the dead..
Before the entrance to Hades, masked by curtains of flames and black smoke, Furies, Spectres and Demons - as well as the dog
Cerberus, "raging and howling"- attempt to terrify Orpheus. Undeterred, he appproaches, accompanying his song with his lyre.
The touching strains mollify the infernal attendants, who open up the gates to the realm of the dead. After Orpheus enters, their
natural fury returns and they rush off into the abyss.
In the magical landscape of the Elysian Fields, the Blessed Spirits, oblivious to the earthly world, enjoy a tranquil happiness.
At first taken with the beauty of the place, Orpheus soon implores the Spirits to give him back his beloved.
A veiled figure approaches, led by a Spirit: it is Eurydice. As she is about to give free rein to her happiness, the Spirit signals to
Orpheus to remain impassive until they have left the underworld.
Guiding his wife through the rocky labyrinth that leads out of Hades, Orpheus tells her that she will return to life. The young
woman's joy is quickly dispelled by the inexplicable behaviour of her husband, who obstinately turns away from her.
Increasingly vexed and fearing the loss of his love, she begs him, assails him with questions, trembles in desperation and
reproaches frail, "unkind Fortune". Then Orpheus, no longer able to endure this cruel ordeal, passes the point of no return:
he looks back and Eurydice dies a second time. Distraught with remorse, he gives vent to his despair, then, preparing to follow