Originally commissioned by The Metropolitan Opera and Los Angeles Opera. This reduced orchestration commissioned by Boston Lyric Opera and Opera Grand Rapids.
Commissioner exclusivity applies
ORPHEUS’ DOUBLE: Countertenor
HADES: High Tenor
LITTLE STONE: Soprano
BIG STONE: Mezzo-Soprano or Contralto
LOUD STONE: Tenor
one-per-part SATB 'chorus' of the Stones plus a Bass
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.
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 Aucoin
- New Opera Highlights from Wise Music Classical
- Wise Music Classical invites you to explore new highlights from our opera catalogue. In these recent and upcoming premieres, new productions, and premiere recordings, our composers and their creative collaborators explore subjects ranging from the historical (Hadrian, X: The Life and Times of Malcom X, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) to the futuristic (Oryx and Crake), the fantastic (El Ultimo Sueño de Frida y Diego, Florencia en el Amazonas, Die Kinder des Sultans) to the thoroughly contemporary (Grounded, Blue, Innocence, The Shell Trial). Threaded throughout these works are perennial themes of loss, longing, magic, art-making, and community.