Major Operas | Euridice by Giulio Caccini | Early & Middle Baroque

Premiered: 1602, Florence
Libretto by Ottavio Rinuccini, after Ovid


The figure of Tragedy introduces the opera, explaining that to make the story suitable for marriage celebrations, the original ending has been altered.

Act I

The act opens in an Arcadian village, with Euridice preparing for her marriage to Orfeo, along with nymphs and shepherds who sing of the couple’s beauty. Orfeo is similarly celebrating with his friend Arcetro and other shepherds, when a messenger, Dafne, enters bearing bad news: Euridice has been bitten by a snake and has died, whispering Orfeo’s name with her dying breath. The nymphs and shepherds join Orfeo in a melancholy lament.

Act II

Orfeo, escorted by Venere, arrives in the underworld. He pleads with Plutone, the ruler there, to return Euridice to him, but Plutone explains that this is not how things happen in the underworld. However, the beauty of Orfeo’s song touches the hearts of Proserpina (Plutone’s wife), Venere and Charon, the boatman of the dead. These divinities add their pleas to Orfeo’s, and Plutone eventually agrees to free Euridice.


Meanwhile, the nymphs and shepherds are concerned about what has happened to Orfeo and Euridice. A shepherd, Arminta, arrives with the happy news that the couple are well and are on their way home. When Orfeo and Euridice return to the village, Orfeo sings a song of joy, which is followed by much rejoicing and dancing throughout the village. The opera closes with a celebration of the victory of love over death.

Personalities | Giulio Caccini | Early & Middle Baroque | Opera


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