I hear there’s a party in hell.
Let’s go!

Mythology. Orpheus and Eurydice are unhappily married, so she is delighted to die and go to the Underworld with Pluto. When Public Opinion demands that Orpheus rescue her, he seeks the assistance of Jupiter, who is having his own trouble with rebellious gods who are bored of Mt. Olympus. Everyone soon decides to go down to Hades to have fun.

Spoofing both mythology and humanity, Offenbach’s smash-hit operetta contains mortals in love, gods in disguise, lively tunes, and a very famous can-can. It’s the perfect way to start spring!

Orpheus in the Underworld
Friday, April 17 at 8pm
Sunday, April 19 at 2:30pm
Overture Hall

Sung in English with projected text
Run time: 2 hours 30 minutes, including 1 intermission

Orpheus in the Underworld

Music by Jacques Offenbach
Libretto by Ludovic Halévy and Hector Crémieux
English translation by Jeremy Sams

Premiered 21 October 1858, Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens, Paris, France
Madison Opera Premiere

First Tableau:  On Earth

Public Opinion explains her role:  she is the guardian of good behavior.  She has plenty on her plate, because Eurydice cannot stand her husband, Orpheus, much less his music.  Each quarrel ends in Orpheus demonstrating his violin virtuosity, and Eurydice would rather die than stay with such a boring man.  Her wish comes true when she meets her beloved Aristaeus, a shepherd who is in fact Pluto, Lord of the Underworld.  With the unwitting help of Orpheus, he has arranged Eurydice’s death.  As she dies, she writes a quick farewell note to her husband before being whisked off to Hades.  Orpheus comes home to find Eurydice gone and rejoices in his good fortune.  Public Opinion intervenes:  If he does not plead with Jupiter to give him back his kidnapped wife, she will see that he is discredited with all his students. Orpheus grudgingly gives in and sets off for Mr. Olympus.

Second Tableau:  On Mt. Olympus

The gods are sleeping.  Diana arrives and tells of the tragic loss of her beloved Acteon, and Jupiter reveals that he transformed the young man into a stag.  Outraged at his interference, she and the other gods declare their boredom with life on Olympus.  Mercury arrives to announce the kidnapping of Eurydice and the arrival on Olympus of Pluto.  Happy to divert attention to someone else, Jupiter welcomes the Lord of the Underworld and questions him about Eurydice, whom Pluto denies abducting.  Their quarrel is interrupted by a rebellion of the gods, who angrily remind Jupiter of all of his escapades on earth.  When Mercury announces that a mortal is seeking an audience, Jupiter restores calm among the gods.  Orpheus enters with Public Opinion and half-heartedly sues for the return of Eurydice.  Jupiter decides to accompany Pluto down to Hades to investigate.  The gods plead with Jupiter to allow them to go with him, and everyone sets off for hell.

~ intermission ~

Third Tableau:  In Pluto’s Boudoir

Eurydice is disappointed.  She had imagined a life of constant orgies in Hades, and instead finds herself under house arrest, guarded by John Styx, who claims to have been the King of Beotia.  A noise leads Styx to lock Eurydice in an adjoining room.  When Jupiter and Pluto appear, everything seems to be in good order, but the eagle-eyed Jupiter spots where Eurydice is imprisoned.  After Pluto leaves, Cupid appears and transforms Jupiter into a fly, so he can get into Eurydice’s room.  The disguised Jupiter successfully entices Eurydice.  When he reveals his true identity, she is quite ready to follow him to the ends of the world, and they make plans to escape during Pluto’s party for the gods.

Fourth Tableau:  A Hall in the Underworld

Pluto’s party is at its height.  Eurydice, disguised as a bacchante, is enjoying herself even more than the rest.  But her plans with Jupiter are slow to materialize, as Pluto stops them from leaving and reminds Jupiter of his promise to give Eurydice back to Orpheus.  Fearing the wrath of Public Opinion, Jupiter restores an unwilling Eurydice to a no-less-miffed Orpheus, but adds a condition:  Orpheus must not look at Eurydice while they are making their way out of Hades.  The unhappy mortal couple leave the party.  Jupiter sends a clap of thunder, which frightens Orpheus and makes him turn around.  Eurydice and Orpheus are happily free of each other, and Public Opinion admits defeat.  To avoid further disputes with Pluto, Jupiter makes Eurydice into a bacchante, as the parties carries on, even merrier than before.


Jeni Houser

Madison Opera Debut: Ensemble, Acis & Galatea (2013)
Recently at MO: Opera in the Park 2019; Anne Egerman, A Little Night Music; Olympia, The Tales of Hoffmann; Amy, Little Women; Johanna, Sweeney Todd
Recently: Viv, Companionship (Fort Worth Opera); Frantzi, Die Weiden (Vienna State Opera); The Queen of the Night, The Magic Flute (Central City Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Minnesota Opera, Kentucky Opera); La Charmeuse, Thaïs; Susanna, The Marriage of Figaro (Minnesota Opera); Zerbinetta, Ariadne auf Naxos (Austin Opera, Minnesota Opera)
Upcoming: Papagena, The Magic Flute; The Golden Cockerel, The Golden Cockerel (Dallas Opera)

David Blalock

Madison Opera Debut: Jaquino, Fidelio (2014)
Recently at MO: Opera in the Park 2019
Recently: Alfredo, La Traviata (Arizona Opera); Pelléas, Pelléas et Mélisande (West Edge Opera); Don Ottavio, Don Giovanni (Opera Hong Kong); Nemorino, The Elixir of Love (Piedmont Opera); Sam, Street Scene; Lysander, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Virginia Opera); Ferrando, Così fan tutte (Opera San Jose)
Upcoming: Pong, Turandot (Metropolitan Opera); Don Ottavio, Don Giovanni (Pensacola Opera)

Javier Abreu

Madison Opera Debut: Tonio, The Daughter of the Regiment (2014)
Ferrando, Così fan tutte (Mill City Summer Opera); Ernesto, Don Pasquale (Pittsburgh Opera); The Visitor, In the Penal Colony (Opera Parallèle); Beppe, Rita; Pigmalione, Pigmalione (Chicago Opera Theater); Gabriel, Bless Me, Ultima (Opera Southwest); Almaviva, The Barber of Seville (Eugene Opera)
Upcoming: Mario Ruoppolo, Il Postino (Opera Southwest)

Craig Verm

Madison Opera Debut: Friedrich Bhaer, Little Women (2016)
Recently: Marcello, La Bohème; Father, Hansel and Gretel (Pittsburgh Opera); Lt. Gordon, Silent Night (Austin Opera); Haly, The Italian Girl in Algiers (Santa Fe Opera); Don Giovanni, Don Giovanni (Dallas Opera); Claudio, Beatrice and Benedict; Guglielmo, Così fan tutte (Seattle Opera); Billy Budd, Billy Budd (Des Moines Metro Opera)
Upcoming: Doug Hanson, Everest (Austin Opera); Riolobo, Florencia en el Amazonas; Don Giovanni, Don Giovanni (Pittsburgh Opera)

Judith Skinner
Public Opinion

Madison Opera Debut
Recently: Maria, Porgy and Bess (Seattle Opera, Glimmerglass Festival, Royal Danish Opera, Atlanta Opera, Dayton Opera); Aunt Eller, Oklahoma! (Glimmerglass Festival); Victoria, A Death in the Family (Center for Contemporary Opera); Ulrica, A Masked Ball (Regina Opera)

Gillian Hollis

Madison Opera Debut: Sister Lillianne, Dead Man Walking (2014)
Recently: Flexibella, Super Storm! (Opera for the Young); Queen of the Night, The Magic Flute; Madeline/Isabel, The Face on the Barroom Floor (Central City Opera); Berta, The Barber of Seville; Barbarina, The Marriage of Figaro (Cleveland Opera Theater); Zémire, Zémire et Azor (Skylight Music Theater)

Ariana Douglas

Madison Opera Debut
Recently: Daniel, La Susanna (Opera Lafayette, Heartbeat Opera); Giulietta, The Tales of Hoffmann (Skylight Music Theatre); First Lady, The Magic Flute; Zerlina, Don Giovanni; Mrs. Vance, Sister Carrie (Florentine Opera)
Upcoming: Susanna, The Marriage of Figaro (Florentine Opera)

Robert A. Goderich
John Styx

Madison Opera Debut: Amelia’s Servant, A Masked Ball (2012)
Recently at MO: Beppe, Pagliacci; 1st Priest / Armored Man, The Magic Flute; Spalanzani, The Tales of Hoffmann; Pirelli, Sweeney Todd
Recently: Cogsworth, Beauty and the Beast; Beadle Bamford, Sweeney Todd (Middleton Players Theatre); Flotsam, The Little Mermaid (Four Seasons Theatre); Pirelli, Sweeney Todd (Skylight Music Theater); Albin, La Cage aux Folles (Music Theatre of Madison); Pirelli cover, Sweeney Todd (San Francisco Opera)

Kirsten Larson

Madison Opera Debut: Lola, Cavalleria Rusticana (2018)
Recently at MO: Mrs. Segstrom, A Little Night Music; 3rd Wood Sprite, Rusalka
Babette, Beauty and the Beast; Johanna, Sweeney Todd; Carrie, Carousel (Middleton Players Theatre); Prince Orlofsky, Die Fledermaus (Madison Savoyards); Fox, The Cunning Little Vixen; Baba the Turk, The Rake’s Progress; Cherubino, The Marriage of Figaro (Louisiana State University)
Upcoming: Flora, La Traviata (Madison Opera)

Emily Secor

Madison Opera Debut: Mrs. Nordstrom, A Little Night Music (2019)
Recently at MO: 1st Wood Sprite, Rusalka
Gretel, Hansel and Gretel; Nightingale, Country Lass, The Enchanted Child (University of Northern Iowa)
Upcoming: Annina, La Traviata; Miss Lightfoot, Fellow Travelers (Madison Opera)

John DeMain

Madison Opera Debut: The Magic Flute (1995)
Recently at MO: Opera in the Park 2019, Rusalka, A Little Night Music, Florencia en el Amazonas, The Abduction from the Seraglio
Recently: Blue (Glimmerglass Festival); Candide (Gran Teatre de Liceu); Porgy and Bess (Seattle Opera, Glimmerglass Festival); Sweeney Todd (Glimmerglass Festival); Lost in the Stars, Show Boat (Washington National Opera)
Upcoming: La Traviata, Fellow Travelers (Madison Opera); Blue (Washington National Opera)

Alison Moritz
Stage Director

Madison Opera Debut: The Abduction from the Seraglio (2018)
Recently: Candide (Ravinia Festival, Tanglewood); Madama Butterfly (Central City Opera, Syracuse Opera); Chunky in Heat (Experiments in Opera); La Bohème (Austin Opera); Penelope (Lyric Opera of Kansas City); The Abduction from the Seraglio (New Orleans Opera); Taking Up Serpents; Proving Up (Washington National Opera); La Traviata (Opera Colorado); Trouble in Tahiti / Gallantry (Opera Santa Barbara)
Upcoming: The Abduction from the Seraglio (Lyric Opera of Kansas City)

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