Malheurs d’Orphée, Les (‘The Misfortunes of Orpheus’)
- Christopher Palmer
(‘The Misfortunes of Orpheus’)
Chamber opera in three acts, op.85, by Darius Milhaud to a libretto by Armand Lunel; Brussels, Théâtre de la Monnaie, 7 May 1926.
Orpheus (baritone), a simple peasant, lives in a village in the Camargue, absenting himself from time to time to tend sick animals. He tells his village friends that he plans to marry Eurydice (soprano), one of four gypsies recently arrived in the village. Suddenly Eurydice enters pursued by her nomadic relatives; they are appalled at the prospect of her marriage and determine to reclaim her. The lovers seek refuge in the mountains, but Eurydice is smitten by a mysterious disease that even Orpheus cannot cure. She dies after commending her husband to the animals who, singing a funeral chorus carry her away. Orpheus returns home and confides that his heart still bleeds. The Bohémiennes, Eurydice’s three sisters (mezzo-soprano and two sopranos), accuse him of causing their sister’s death and stab him. As he expires, yearning towards his beloved, they realize their mistake....