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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

Cast

Eurydice
Danielle de Niese
Father
Rod Gilfry
Orpheus
Joshua Hopkins
Orpheus's Double
John Holiday
Hades
Barry Banks
Little Stone
Stacey Tappan
Big Stone
Raehann Bryce-Davis
Loud Stone
Kevin Ray

Creative Team

Composer / Conductor
Matthew Aucoin
Librettist
Sarah Ruhl
Director
Mary Zimmerman
Scenery
Daniel Ostling
Costumes
Ana Kuzmanić
Lighting
T.J. Gerckens
Chorus
Grant Gershon
Choreographer
Denis Jones

Read the synopsis

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Synopsis

Act One
Orpheus and Eurydice, young and in love, on a beach. Eurydice is frustrated that Orpheus’s mind always seems to be elsewhere. But Orpheus surprises her: he playfully ties a string around her finger to remind her of their love, and she realizes (a little late) that he’s tied it around her ring finger, and that it’s a proposal. She says yes.

In the Underworld, Eurydice’s father writes her a letter, offering fatherly advice for her wedding day. He laments that he doesn’t know how to get his letters to her.

At their wedding, Orpheus and Eurydice dance. Eurydice says she’s feeling warm, and steps outside to find a drink of water.

When she is alone outside, Eurydice realizes how much she misses her deceased father, and says that she’d always thought there would be “more interesting people” at her wedding. At that moment, a mysterious, “interesting” man appears. He claims to have a penthouse apartment.

At his apartment, the Interesting Man gives Eurydice champagne and puts on terrible mood music. He does not give her the letter. Eurydice realizes the situation she’s in and turns to leave. The Interesting Man reveals the letter. Eurydice tries to grab it and run away, but she trips. She falls down hundreds of stairs, into the Underworld, to her death.

Act Two
In the Underworld, we meet three Stones (Little Stone, Big Stone, and Loud Stone), obnoxious bureaucratic guardians of the land of the dead. They explain that Eurydice has died, and that, as a dead person, she will lose her memory and all power of language.

Eurydice arrives in the Underworld in an elevator. Inside the elevator, it rains on Eurydice. She loses her memory.

When she steps out of the elevator, her father greets her. Eurydice has no idea who he is. Her father tries to explain what has happened to her.

In the world above, Orpheus mourns Eurydice’s death. He writes her a letter, but does not know how to get it to her.

In the Underworld, the Father builds a room out of string for Eurydice. A letter falls from the sky. The Father reads it and tells Eurydice it is from Orpheus. The name “Orpheus” triggers something in Eurydice, and she begins to remember who she is. She finally recognizes her father.

Orpheus slowly lowers the collected works of Shakespeare into the underworld on a string. The Father reads to Eurydice from King Lear. Eurydice begins to learn language again, word by word.

Orpheus resolves to find a way to get to the Underworld and bring Eurydice back.

In the Underworld, the Stones hear Orpheus singing wordlessly as he approaches the gates. His singing begins to rouse the spirits of the dead. Distressed, the Stones call their boss, Hades (who we now see is also the Interesting Man).

Intermission

Act Three
Orpheus sings gorgeously at the gates of the Underworld. Hades appears and dismissively informs him of the rules for bringing Eurydice back to the world above. She can follow him, but he must not look back to make sure she is there.

Eurydice is torn between following Orpheus and staying with her father. Her father insists that she go after Orpheus and live a full life.

When she sees Orpheus up ahead, Eurydice is afraid. She is convinced that it’s not really him. She follows, but eventually rushes toward him and calls his name. Orpheus turns around, startled. The lovers are slowly, helplessly pulled apart.

The Father is desolate now that Eurydice is gone. In despair, he decides to dip himself in the river of forgetfulness and obliterate his memory. He quietly speaks the directions to his childhood home and lowers himself into the water.

Eurydice returns to the Underworld, and finds to her horror that her father has dipped himself in the river. Hades reappears to claim her as his bride. She coyly asks for a moment to prepare herself.

She finds a pen in her father’s coat pocket, and writes a letter to Orpheus, which contains instructions for his future wife on how to take care of him. She dips herself in the river of forgetfulness.

The elevator descends once again. In it is Orpheus. He sees Eurydice lying on the ground. He recognizes her and is happy. But the elevator rains on Orpheus, obliterating his memory. He steps out of the elevator. He finds the letter Eurydice wrote to him. He does not know how to read it.

World premiere

Performed in English with subtitles

Read composer Matthew Aucoin's program note about Eurydice here.

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

By arrangement with G. Schirmer, Inc., publisher and copyright owner

Artwork for Eurydice
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