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'Orpheus in the Underworld'

Armidale Town Hall - April/May 1968

Stage Direction by Olive Aubrey
Musical Direction by Keith Aubrey

By J Offenbach. By courtesy Chappel & Co.


Orpheus, son of a Thracian king and the Muse Calliope, was the greatest of all poets and musicians. Apollo gave him his lyre and the Muses taught him to play it. He did this so sweetly that his music even tamed wild beasts. The beauty of his wife Eurydice inspired the passion of the rural deity, Aristaeus, who presided over the making of honey and olive oil. One day he pursued her into the wood and as she fled from his embraces, she trod on a serpant and died of his bite.

Orpheus's grief was so great that he descended into Hades and begged the Gods of the Underworld to let Eurydice return to life with him. Enchanted by his playing, they agreed on one condition - that Orpheus must not look behind him till they both reached earth. However, Orpheus turned around to see whether she was following, so that Eurydice was doomed to spend her days in the Underworld.

Offenbach has given the old legend a new turn. Calliope is represented as the disapproving mother-in-law, who, nevertheless, incites her son to appeal to Jupiter, father of the deities, for the return to earth of Eurydice, who has been taken to Hades by Pluto. Jupiter takes the gods with him to collect her. This is a rollicking, humourous operetta - always on the move and full of nonsense and melody.



Act I

A landscape near Thebes. The scene opens with nymphs and shepherds gathering for an inspection at evening fall by Calliope. After the inspection, they drift off singing. Calliope then introduces her daughter-in-law Eurydice who is singing "The Happy Bride.. for whom I sigh". She is looking for her lover, Aristaeus, keeper of bees. He is not at home, but, as she decorates his doorway with flowers, her husband, Orpheus, professor of music enters. Eurydice has an aversion to her husband's violin playing: he insists on playing and she imitates him. Finally, in pique, he says that he has a message from the Oracle of Delphi to Aristaeus, warning him against danger in a nearby cornfield. After Orpheus departs, Eurydice searches for the danger and screams in face of snakes; she exits, calling to Aristaeus ie. Pluto in disguise.

Aristaeus enters with a posse of shepherdesses in admiration; he leads them on until Eurydice enters and he reveals his true identity as King of Hades. They move to the cornfield, where Eurydice is bitten by a snake and dies. Orpheus discovers a message from Eurydice telling him that she has departed with Pluto. He is induced by his mother (Calliope) to put up a good show and to protest to Jupiter, king of the Gods. He takes leave of his violin pupils and departs with his mother to Mount Olympus - transport? - a balloon.

Act II

Night on Mount Olympus; Jupiter wakens the gods and goddesses with the dawn. He is informed by Mercury of Eurydice's affairs and of the impending arrival of the balloon bringing Calliope and Orpheus. Mercury is despatched to Hades to summon Pluto to account before Jupiter. The deities, looking forward to the diversion of a showdown are disappointed with Jupiter asks them to leave and protest loudly. The situation is saved with the arrival of Calliope and Orpheus to plead their case. Papa Jupiter decides to take everyone down to Hades to collect Eurydice.


Scene 1: Eurydice laments her dull life in Hades, with Pluto absent and Styx, the dead King of the Boeotians, a people famed for slow wittedness, in charge of her. Jupiter protests that he is not properly greeted by Pluto, who makes an excuse and says that the other deities are being given a conducted tour of Hades. Meanwhile Cupid discovers for Jupiter the whereabouts of Eurydice and the Father of the Gods, captivated by a pretty figure, in the guise of a fly, views her in a shower recess. There is much humour here. He finally reveals his identity.

Scene 2: Still in Hades. Amidst lavishly colourful, riotous celebration Jupiter arranges that Orpheus might claim his wife provided that he returns to Earth from Hades without looking back at her. But, reluctant to lose a beauty, he causes a thunderbolt to sound and Orpheus looks back and so loses his lady, who is left to choose someone else - and chooses Bacchus. Before returning to Olympus, the Gods sing a farewell song to the audience.


Act I

A landscape near Thebes

'Opening' - Calliope and Chorus
'The Happy Bride' - Eurydice
'Entrance of Orpheus'
'The Violin Duet' - Eurydice and Orpheus
'May I Make Myself Known' - Pluto as Aristaeus and girls
'Mortals Below, Gods up Above' - Eurydice, Pluto and Chorus
'Invocation' - Eurydice and Chorus
'Finale Act I' - Calliope, Orpheus and Chorus

Act II

Mount Olympus

'Lament for Acteon' - Diana, Venus, Jupiter and Chorus
'Balloon Song' - Calliope, Orpheus and Icarus
'Nothing We Can Do' - Juno, Pluto and Jupiter
'To Arms' - Ensemble
'Ha-Ha-Ha!' - Cupid, Venus, Mars, Diana and Chorus
'Finale Act II' - Ensemble


Pluto's Den then Hades

'Sorry I Came' - Eurydice
'When I Was King' - Styx
'Cherchez La Femme' - Pluto, Jupiter, Mercury, Mars and Styx
'The "Fly" Duet' - Eurydice and Jupiter
'The Hades Chorus' - Chorus, Venus and Cupid
'Hymn to Bacchus' - Eurydice and Chorus
'Mortals Below, Gods up Above' (reprise) - Eurydice, Pluto and Chorus
'Minuet' - Jupiter, Pluto and Ensemble
'Galop' - Ensemble
'Entrance of Orpheus'
'Finale Act III' - Full Company


Eurydice, Wife of Orpheus: Ruth Edmonds, Calliope, Muse of Poetry, mother of Orpheus: Audry Heatwole,Cupid, God of Love: Pat Bennett, Venus, Goddess of Beauty: Dorothy Sparks, Diana, Goddess of Hunting: Ruth Collerson, Juno, Wife of Jupiter: Nola Cummins, Orpheus, Professor of Music: Ken Field, Pluto, King of Hades: Warren Burr, Jupiter, King of the Gods: Allan McEachern, Mars, God of War: Bob Dunn, Mercury, Messenger of the Gods: Barry Chapman, Bacchus, God of Wine: Geoff Randall, Vulcan, God of Fire: Geoff Burkhardt, Styx, Servant of Pluto: Bill Pearson, Icarus, Pilot of the balloon: John Little

Nymphs, shepherds, gods, goddesses and attendants of the gods and of Pluto: Sopranos: Deirdre Poulton, May Croaker, Eleanor Galletly, Win Fayle, Judy Reece, Desley Pollock, Robyn Atkinson, Sue McSpedden, Chris Allman, Tenors: John Moran, Peter Robertson, David Fayle, Dennes Fayle, John Little, Bob Dunn, Barry Chapman, Altos: Margaret Coggan, Betty Pearson, Nerida Curtis, Linley Curtis, Helen Little, Carol Lockyer, Alison Stewart, Alice Flinn, Margaret Baker, Wendy Roberts, Narelle Webber, Helen Dumbrill, Basses: Joshua Smith, Peter Hutchinson, Geoff Burkhardt, Allen Miller, Bill Pearson, Geoff Randall

Attendants To The Gods: Sue McSpedden, Desley Pollock, Robyn Atkinson, Chris Allman, Win Fayle

Violin Pupils: Helen Dumbrill, Win Fayle, Helen Little, Alice Flinn, David Fayle, Joshua Smith, John Moran

Follower of Pluto: Margaret Baker

Special Dancers: Minuet: Warren Burr, Carol Lockyer, Ruth Collerson, Barry Chapman, John Little, Pat Bennett, Galop: Eleanor Galletly, May Croaker, Helen Dumbrill, Helen Little, Nerida Curtis, Peter Robertson, David Fayle, Allan Miller, Joshua Smith, John Moran


Violins: Lois Kesteven (Leader), Eunice Allingham, Erene Schaefer, Colin Sholl, Derek Lindsay, Elfi Sturmer, Florence Brereton, Sheila Walker, Susan Got, Viola: Len Bell, Cello: Arpad Got, Elizabeth Lewis, Jean Southcott, Oboe: Evan Lewis, Flute: Jim Hawkins, Neville Fletcher, Clarinets: James Ridsdell-Smith, Leo Atherton, Trumpets: Pat Costigan, Davydd Williams, Trombone: John Lane, Percussion: Mainie Atherton,Tympani: Pat Johnstone, Piano: Betty McEachern


Director: Olive Aubrey
Musical Director: Keith Aubrey
Costumes: Audry Heatwole with Ruth Collerson assisted by Sylvia Pink, Clarice Faint, Win Fayle, Nerida Curtis 
Stage Manager: Howard Wheaton
Stage Crew: John Beckingham, Jeff Boaler, Bill Williams, Brian Coggan, Stuart Grigg 
Lighting: Lewis Payne 
Rehearsal Pianist: Betty McEachern
Sound Effects: Beverley Conners, John McSpedden
Prompt: Peg Leask
Properties: Els Coventry
Make-up: Aline Christenson
Photography: Frank Anderson
Business and House Manager: Peter Poggioli
Programme Cover: Misses Marsland and Truscott
Posters: Sue McSpedden, Desley Pollock, Robyn Atkinson
Designers: Misses Marsland and Truscott
Choreography: Pam Farley


Armidale Newspaper Co Ltd, Armidale Teachers' College for rehearsal venue, Radio 2AD, Shepherd's Crooks by Winchcombe Carson Ltd, Armidale manufactured by Craigie-Lee Industries, Glen Innes

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