Perhaps the most recent adaptation of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice is the musical Hadestown, which opened on Broadway in 2019. With music and lyrics by Anaïs Mitchell, Hadestown began as a concept album and grew into a Broadway sensation, winning eight Tony Awards including Best Musical and Best Original Score.
The musical narrates the stories of the young singer Orpheus and his love Eurydice, as well as of king Hades and his queen Persephone.
In the musical’s telling, Hades and Persephone were once very much in love, but after years of marriage and Persephone’s constant journeying from earth to the Underworld and back, their relationship has grown strained and tired. Hades has turned the Underworld into a “neon necropolis,” with factories powered by fossil fuels, where workers build a massive wall to keep out the “enemy” of poverty. Persephone now spends half the year with him, and on earth there is only bitter, dark winter. Hades keeps her longer and longer, and when she finally returns to earth the world burns with the blazing heat of summer. Fall and spring are neglected; only the coldest winter and the hottest summer seasons remain. Orpheus, meanwhile, is trying to compose a song to remind Hades and Persephone of what their love once was and to restore balance to the seasons. Eurydice wants to stay with Orpheus, but is growing tired of the constant struggle of life on earth.
Listen to the song “Why We Build the Wall” in the video below, sung by Hades and his chorus of workers in the Underworld:
Listen to This Song
Listen to the lyrics of the song of the Hadestown performers singing “Wait for Me” at the 2019 Tony Awards.
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