Performance History

Orphée aux enfers (translated from French as Orpheus in the Underworld) is a comedian opéra-bouffon to the music of the German-born French composer Jacques Offenbach. The libretto was written by Ludovic Halévy and later revised by Hector-Jonathan Crémieux.

First performed in 1858 in Paris, the operetta used Greek mythology as a backdrop to create an irreverent parody on the opera Orfeo ed Euridice (1762) by Christoph Willibald Gluck.

Offenbach, who is also well known for his mocking and offbeat burlesques and comic travesty plays, shocked the audience at the premiere with his risqué Galop infernal in act 2, scene 2, which is famously known as “can-can” today.