Orfeo ed Euridice (L’anima del filosofo)
DRAMMA PER MUSICA IN FOUR ACTS
Libretto by Carlo Francesco Bandini
The operatic œuvre of Joseph Haydn is crowned and ended by a work as fascinating as it is enigmatic. L’anima del filosofo ossia Orfeo ed Euridice recounts the original myth of the singer Orpheus who defies the gods and rescues his dead beloved Eurydice from the Underworld with his song. The opera, along with the London symphonies written at the same time, show Haydn at the very peak of his creative powers. The premiere was scheduled for 1791 in London but was cancelled, and Haydn left the work unfinished. Ádám Fischer, a longstanding champion of Haydn’s music, now conducts this late masterpiece.
In Italian with German surtitles
Act I Euridice, daughter of King Creonte, has been
promised in marriage to Arideo. Before the wedding, the unhappy princess, who
loves the Thracian singer and kithara player Orfeo, runs away and gets lost in
an untamed land. There she comes across monsters that want to sacrifice her.
Orfeo hears her cries for help and succeeds in calming the monsters with his
singing and kithara-playing. Creonte, who hears all about this, can no longer
deny the couple their wish and gives Orfeo his daughter’s hand in marriage.
Act II The romantic idyll is disturbed by the noise of battle. When Orfeo leaves to see where the noise is coming from, one of Arideo’s men appears, intending to abduct Euridice for his master. She runs away, but steps on a poisonous snake which bites her and she dies. Arideo wants vengeance on Euridice’s faithless father for the dishonour he has suffered. Orfeo returns, finds his wife dead, and laments his cruel fate. Creonte swears to take revenge on Arideo.
Act III When the funeral service for Euridice is over, Orfeo consults the wise Sibyl. She sends him a protective spirit who accompanies him into the Underworld, urging him to be resolute and brave.
Act IV Orfeo and the spirit arrive on the bank of the Lethe where the Furies hold the intruders off. But Pluto shows mercy: Euridice is allowed to return with Orfeo, although he is forbidden to look back at her. Orfeo disobeys this command and loses Euridice a second time.
Act V In his despair, Orfeo renounces love and all pleasures, despite the enticement of the Bacchantes who give him a poisoned cup. Orfeo drinks from it and dies. The Bacchantes set sail for the Isle of Pleasure, but their boat is danger of sinking in a storm.