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Orpheus in the Underworld


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Orpheus in the Underworld

Composer: Jacques Offenbach

Opéra-bouffon in two acts (mixed version 1858/1874, critical edition by Jean-Christophe Keck)
Libretto: Ludovic Halévy, Hector Crémieux
Polish translation: Jerzy Merunowicz, Andrzej Ozga (sung parts), edition: Wojciech Kępczyński

World premiere: 21.10.1858, Bouffes Parisiens, Paris
Polish premiere: 19.02.1862, Warsaw

Premiere at the Krakow Opera: 27.03.2020


Production team:

Music Director: Tomasz Tokarczyk
Director: Włodzimierz Nurkowski
Set Designer and Costume Designer: Anna Sekuła
Stage movement: Violetta Suska
Choir Master: Jacek Mentel

Director’s assistant: Anna Popiel
Stage managers: Mateusz Makselon, Dagmar Bilińska-Korban
Prompters: Dorota Sawka, Maria Mitkowska



The operetta in which Offenbach, the master of the genre, made a parody of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice by breaking with the previous tradition of its rendition. The programme of the Krakow Opera includes this best known opera piece illustrating the great feeling Orpheus had for his deceased wife, Orpheus and Eurydice by Ch. W. Gluck. Offenbach’s adaptation portrays a married couple, bored with each other and searching for thrills outside of marriage with the interference of Olympian gods. The myth turned upside down gives the composer a chance to laugh at the unpunished abuse of power by elites, omnipresent hypocrisy, double standards of morality, and lying to the public. Cries of outrage were heard in Paris as a response to the violation of antiquity and disrespect towards the majesty of the Tsar, but the intelligent audiences hugely enjoyed the piece. Orpheus in the Underworld soon became internationally successful, because isn’t laughing at those in power a cure for anger and helplessness? And shouldn’t we laugh at ourselves, sometimes? The music sparkles with humour, awes with imaginativeness and wit. The Galop infernal from the second act, also known as the can-can, became the most recognized of the many unforgettable elements.


The performance is being prepared by Tomasz Tokarczyk, music director of the Opera, and Włodzimierz Nurkowski known from successful productions shown on our stage, such as Gianni Schicchi, Pagliacci, The Turk in Italy or Ariadne on Naxos. As usual, he will be supported in the visual aspect by Anna Sekuła – stage and costume designer.