Unavailable for performance.

  • 2S, Mz[=Ca], Ct, 2T, Bar, B-Bar; 3(2pic,afl).2.2+bcl(cbcl).2(cbn)/4.3(pictpt).2+btbn.1/timp.5perc/2hp.pf/str
  • SATB with solo soprano
  • 2 hr
    • 30th November 2021, The Metropolitan Opera House, New York, NY, United States of America
    • 4th December 2021, The Metropolitan Opera House, New York, NY, United States of America
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Programme Note

Cast List
ORPHEUS: Baritone
ORPHEUS’ DOUBLE: Countertenor
FATHER: Bass-Baritone
HADES: High Tenor
BIG STONE: Mezzo-Soprano or Contralto

SATB chorus (with solo Soprano)

Eurydice reconceives the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, telling the story from the heroine’s perspective. We follow Eurydice into the underworld, where she first passes through the River of Forgetfulness, then encounters her deceased father. By the time Orpheus comes to find her, Eurydice has become a different person, and is not sure she wants to return to life.

Composer Note
The myth of Orpheus and Eurydice continues to resonate because of its brutally honest admixture of hope and despair. Music can conquer death itself — of course it can — but not for us, not for human beings. We aren’t worthy of it. We’ll always find a way to screw things up.

In past pieces, I’ve explored the myth’s darker implications, the way that Orpheus seems to prefer singing elegies for Eurydice to actually living with her. But for a full-length opera, I realized that I didn’t want to wallow in Orpheus’s narcissism all evening. I wanted a fresh perspective on this most inescapable of stories.

Sarah Ruhl’s play Eurydice, which turns the myth on its head and invents a rich inner world for its heroine, provided that fresh perspective. Her work goes where no telling of the story has ever gone: we follow Eurydice into the underworld, where she loses her memory and reverts to a childlike tabula rasa state.

Sarah’s work is disarming in its emotional transparency, and she helped me strive for a similar quality in my music. The opera that resulted is a meditation on memory, loss, and love (especially love: I started writing it the week I met my now-husband, and I know that the experience of being in love found its way into the piece’s music).

In the world of Eurydice, all human experiences are ultimately washed away by the River of Forgetfulness. But their ephemerality might be precisely what makes them precious.

— Matthew Aucion


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