Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice: A Mythical Opera of Love and Redemption



Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice is a remarkable opera that tells the story of the mythical musician Orpheus and his wife Eurydice. The story is about the power of love and redemption and how one man's love can conquer even death itself. Gluck's retelling of this timeless story is one of the most beautiful and moving pieces of music ever written. In this article, we will explore the various aspects of this masterpiece and take a closer look at what makes it so special.

The Story

Act I

Orfeo, a musician, is mourning the death of his beloved wife, Euridice. He is so grief-stricken that he decides to go to the underworld to bring her back to life. The gods hear his plea and allow him to enter the underworld, but on one condition: he must not look back at her until they have both reached the upper world.

Orfeo sets off on his journey, and along the way, he encounters various obstacles, including the Furies, who try to prevent him from entering the underworld. He eventually reaches the Elysian Fields, where he is reunited with Euridice.

Act II

Orfeo is overjoyed to have found his wife, but he remembers the conditions set by the gods and tries not to look back at her. Unfortunately, Euridice becomes impatient and demands to know why he is not looking at her. Orfeo cannot resist and turns around, only to see Euridice fade away and return to the underworld.


Orfeo is devastated by the loss of his wife and decides to take his own life. However, Amore, the god of love, intervenes and convinces Orfeo to sing a love song to Euridice. His love is so powerful that it moves the gods, and they allow him to be reunited with his wife in the afterlife.

The Music

Gluck's music is characterized by its simplicity and directness. He was a pioneer of the "reform" opera, which sought to move away from the excesses of the baroque period and focus on the essential elements of music. In Orfeo ed Euridice, Gluck uses simple melodies and clear orchestration to convey the emotion of the story.

One of the most famous pieces in the opera is Orfeo's aria, "Che farò senza Euridice." The aria is a beautiful expression of Orfeo's despair after losing his wife. The simple melody and the haunting orchestration create a sense of melancholy that is almost palpable.

The Production

Orfeo ed Euridice has been produced in many different ways over the years. Some productions have been set in ancient Greece, while others have used more modern settings. The opera has also been adapted for dance, with choreographers creating their interpretations of the story.

One of the most famous productions of the opera was created by the director Robert Carsen. His production was set in a mental hospital, with Orfeo as a patient who believes he can bring his wife back to life. The production was a huge success and received critical acclaim.


Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice is a masterpiece of music and storytelling. Its timeless story of love and redemption continues to captivate audiences today, as it did when it was first performed over 250 years ago. The music is simple but powerful, and the characters are deeply drawn. It is an opera that will continue to inspire and move audiences for many years to come.