Offenbach Orpheus in the Underworld

Orphée aux enfers (Orpheus in the Underworld) is an opéra bouffon by Jacques Offenbach. The French text was written by Ludovic Halévy and later revised by Hector-Jonathan Crémieux. The work, first performed in 1858, is said to be the first classical full-length operetta. Offenbach's earlier operettas were small-scale one-act works, since the law in France did not allow certain genres of full-length works. Orpheus was not only longer, but more musically adventurous than Offenbach's earlier pieces. This also marked the first time that Offenbach used Greek mythology as a backdrop for one of his buffooneries. The operetta is an irreverent parody and scathing satire on Gluck and his Orfeo ed Euridice and culminates in the risqué Infernal Gallop that shocked some in the audience at the premiere. This piece is famous outside classical circles as the music for the "can-can" (to the extent that the tune is widely, but erroneously, called "can-can") . Saint-Saëns borrowed the Galop, slowed it to a crawl, and arranged it for the strings to represent the tortoise in The Carnival of the Animals.
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Recordings

Overture to Orpheus in the underworld
Overture to Orpheus in the underworld

Samples

Orpheus in the Underworld
Orpheus in the Underworld

Questions

Orpheus In The Underworld
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  • 11 months, 1 week ago