- Christoph Willibald von Gluck. Azione teatrale in three acts. 1762.
- Libretto by Ranieri de'Calzabigi.
- First performance at the Burgtheater, Vienna, on 5th October 1762.
|Orfeo (Orpheus) ||male alto|
|Euridice (Eurydice), his wife ||soprano|
|Amore (Cupid) ||soprano|
Nymphs and shepherds celebrate the funeral rites of Eurydice, assisted by Orpheus, who laments
her loss and reproaches the gods with cruelty. Cupid tells him that he may, if he can, bring her back
from the dead by the power of music, but must not look at her until she is in the land of the living
again. He encounters demons and Furies as he descends, calming them with his music, before
entering the Elysian fields, where the blessed spirits dance. Eurydice questions him and faints, as
they try to leave, causing him to look round, at which she dies once more. He laments this turn of
events, comforted by Cupid, who, rewarding his obvious fidelity, restores Eurydice to life once
more. The opera ends in a celebration at the temple of Cupid.
Orfeo ed Euridice (Orpheus and Eurydice) is the first of Gluck's reform operas, collaborations
with Ranieri de'Calzabigi, in which composer and poet aimed at a noble classical simplicity,
avoiding what Gluck described in his preface to Alceste as the abuses of excessive ornamentation
and other elements that pandered to the vanity of singers. Instrumental excerpts from the opera,
which have appeared over the years in a variety of other arrangements, must include the famous
Dance of the Blessed Spirits, which is preceded in the opera by the contrasting Dance of the Furies.
Most moving is the lament of Orpheus when Eurydice has died a second time, Che farò senza
Euridice (What am I to do without Eurydice).