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Eurydice Eurydice

Composed by Matthew Aucoin

February 123, 2020

A world premiere starring Danielle de Niese

At the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

World Premiere: In the Greek myth, she was a shadowy figure we barely knew. Let's change that.

Matthew Aucoin partners with playwright Sarah Ruhl for a new opera that reimagines ancient mythology for a modern age. This time, the tale unfolds from the heroine's point of view. (Finally, right?) 

Tragically killed on her wedding day, a young bride descends into the underworld, where she reconnects with her adoring father. Presented with the opportunity to return to her husband in the world of the living, she must choose between the two men she loves.

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Bonus: we're celebrating this world premiere with a Eurydice-themed festival: Eurydice Found

"If contemporary opera has a rising wunderkind, then Aucoin has to be it."

New York Times


Danielle de Niese
Rod Gilfry
Joshua Hopkins
Orpheus Double
John Holiday
Barry Banks
Little Stone
Stacey Tappan
Big Stone
Raehann Bryce-Davis
Loud Stone
Matthew Grills

Creative Team

Composer / Conductor
Matthew Aucoin
Sarah Ruhl
Mary Zimmerman
Daniel Ostling
Ana Kuzmanić
Grant Gershon

Read the synopsis

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Act One
Scene One
Eurydice and Orpheus are young and in love. He is a musician, constantly coming up with new songs and melodies in his mind. To remind her of his love, he ties a string around the fourth finger of her left hand. The significance of the gesture dawns upon her: they are now engaged to be married.

Scene Two
In the underworld, Eurydice’s dead father writes her a letter for her wedding day. He is one of the very few dead who remember how to read or write. He keeps this secret, not wanting to be dipped in the river of forgetfulness again. He doesn’t know how to send the letter to his daughter in the world of the living. He drops it as if through a mail slot. The letter falls to the ground.

Scene Three
In a waterside ceremony, Eurydice and Orpheus recite their marriage vows. In the underworld, her father imagines his daughter’s wedding.

Scene Four
The bridal couple and their guests dance at the reception. Eurydice leaves to get a drink of water at the pump; she hates parties.

Scene Five
Eurydice encounters a man who says he is on his way to another party. As she begins to return to the wedding reception, the man finds her father’s letter on the ground. He calls her back, claiming that he has a letter for her at his high-rise apartment, where it had been delivered by mistake. He invites her back to his apartment. She warily agrees to go with him.

Scene Six
After climbing many stairs, Eurydice and the man arrive at his empty apartment. He offers her champagne. Looking out the window, she can see her wedding reception far below. The man tells her that he would be a better husband for her than Orpheus. She grabs the letter from his pocket, then rushes to the stairs. She loses her balance and falls.

Act Two
Scene One
In the underworld, the dead sing wordlessly. Three stones watch as Eurydice arrives.  She has virtually no memory of her husband or her prior life, and now speaks the language of the dead. Her father approaches her, but she doesn’t recognize him; she thinks that he is a porter sent to escort her from the train station to a hotel. He takes her luggage.

Scene Two
A grieving Orpheus writes a letter to his dead wife. He vows to find her. He drops the letter on the ground, hoping that a worm will deliver it to her.

Scene Three
Eurydice’s father creates a room out of string for his daughter. Orpheus’s letter falls from above. Since Eurydice no longer knows what a letter is or how to read it, her father reads the letter aloud to her. Something stirs in her memory. She begins to remember Orpheus, then recognizes her father. Above, Orpheus recalls how much Eurydice loved to read. He drops a book of Shakespeare’s plays down to her. Eurydice’s father picks up the book and reads verses of King Lear to her. He tells Eurydice that she always loved words. With his help, she relearns her forgotten language.

Above, Orpheus watches the rain fall. He wonders if he could follow a drop of water down into the earth. Eurydice recalls that Orpheus never liked words; his head was filled only with music.

Scene Four
Orpheus has a plan. He will fall asleep with a straw in his mouth, then crawl through the straw into the darkness. He will sing for the devils and find Eurydice.

Scene Five
The three stones hear Orpheus singing as he approaches. Hades (the stranger Eurydice encountered on her wedding day) is furious; singing is not allowed in the underworld.

Act Three
Scene One
Orpheus arrives at the gates of the underworld, moving the stones to tears with his song. Hades tells him that he can take Eurydice back to the world of the living, but he must not turn back to look at her as she follows him. If he does, he will lose her forever.

Scene Two
Eurydice hears Orpheus at the gates. She tells her father that her husband has come to rescue her. This upsets her father, but he urges her to return home with Orpheus anyway. They see Orpheus ahead. Eurydice’s father wonders if Orpheus will be able to take care of her. Eurydice walks toward Orpheus. In a moment of uncertainty, she turns back to look for her father, but he has already gone. The three stones urge her forward. She catches up to Orpheus and calls out his name. Orpheus turns back to look at her and the world falls away. They are compelled to walk away from each other—Orpheus back to the world of the living, Eurydice back to the underworld—until they are out of sight.

Scene Three
Alone, Eurydice’s father dismantles the string room he had created for her. Having lost his daughter a second time, he longs to forget everything. He dips himself into the river of forgetfulness, then lies down on the ground, asleep.

When Eurydice returns, the three stones tell her what her father has done. Anguished, she vows to teach him language and help him remember her, but it is too late. Hades tell Eurydice that he has decided that she will be his bride; she has no choice in the matter. She asks for a moment to prepare for the wedding. She writes a letter to Orpheus and to his future wife, urging them to be happy. She puts the letter on the ground, then dips herself in the river of forgetfulness and lies down next to her father.

Orpheus, dead, arrives in the underworld, his memories washed away too. He sees Eurydice’s letter, but doesn’t recognize what it is.


World premiere

Performed in English with subtitles

Commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera and LA Opera

Originally commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera / Lincoln Center Theater New Works Program with support from the OPERA America Repertoire Development Grant

A co-production of LA Opera and the Metropolitan Opera

Artwork for Eurydice
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