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by Hector Cremieux

Genre: Comedy, Myth, Operetta
Format of Original Source: Plot summary
Recommended Adaptation Length: Two Hours

Candidate for Adaptation? Promising


The first scene of the opera discloses Eurydice in the Theban meadows plucking flowers with which to decorate the cabin of Aristeus, the shepherd, who is really Pluto in disguise. Suddenly Orpheus appears, not with his tortoise-shell lyre, but playing the violin and serenading, as he supposes, a shepherdess with whom he is in love. His mistake reveals the fact that each of them is false to the other, and a violent quarrel of the most ludicrous description ensues, ending in their separation. He goes to his shepherdess, she to her shepherd. Shortly afterwards, Aristeus meets Eurydice in the fields and reveals his real self. By supernatural power he turns day into night and brings on a tempest, in the midst of which he bears her away to the infernal regions, but not before she has written upon Orpheus’ hut the fate that has overtaken her. When Orpheus returns he is overjoyed at his loss, but in the midst of his exultation, Public Opinion appears and commands him to go to Olympus and demand from Jupiter the restoration of his wife. Orpheus reluctantly obeys the order.


Caveat:  Producers are likely to have a prejudice against any musical based on this myth (“Hadestown” is based on the same myth, so producers would think your musical had better be GREAT.)  But the plot structure of this telling of the Orpheus story provides a fairly solid foundation from which to start.  If you’re able to find a socko metaphor for gods/humans which is continually resonant and not just gimmicky, and you provide an amazing score, there’s a possibility for success here. Having said that, it’d better be great.

A word of caution: This plot summary was written by 19th-century literary critic George Upton, who often mixes personal opinion with summation. You would be advised to consult the original source material, if the general plot appeals to you.


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