Luther College to present 'Orpheus in the Underworld'

"Orpheus in the Underworld," a parody of the classic Greek myth of music, love and loss, will be presented at 7:30 p.m. May 3-4 in the Main Hall of the Center for Faith and Life on the Luther Campus.

Tickets are $10, available at the Luther Box Office, (563) 387-1357 or [email protected], Monday, Wednesday and Friday 9-10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; Tuesday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. with extended hours on Thursdays 9 a.m.-7 p.m.

In addition to the performances, James Griesheimer, Luther associate professor of music, will present a lecture on "Orpheus in the Underworld" at 6:30 p.m. May 3-4 in the Recital Hall of the Center for Faith and Life.

"Orpheus in the Underworld" by Jacques Offenbach is based on the Greek myth of Orpheus, a man with unmatched musical talent whose true love, Eurydice, died on the day of their wedding. Although Orpheus won Eurydice back from the god of the underworld, he was tricked into losing her permanently, ending the tale on a tragic note.

Offenbach's operetta tells a different type of story. Although Orpheus and Eurydice are married, both are unhappy with the arrangement and having affairs. When it is discovered that Eurydice's lover is Pluto, the god of the underworld, she willingly descends with him to the kingdom of the dead, leaving Orpheus free to pursue the shepherdess he loves.

However, Orpheus is sent scurrying to rescue his wife when Public Opinion, the guardian of morality and a play on the classic Greek chorus, threatens to ruin his teaching career unless he does so. The gods from atop Mount Olympus join in the rescue as well, if only as an attempt to relieve the boredom of their eternal, heavenly existences.

First performed in 1858, "Orpheus in the Underworld" is said to be the first full-length operetta, an opera that is light both in terms of music and subject matter. It was also the origin of the "Infernal Galop," the tune most frequently associated with the can-can dance.

The cast, comprised of Luther students, includes Alec Carlson as Orpheus, Erin Persick and Jennifer LeDoux as Eurydice, Kari Jensen as Public Opinion, Adam Bradley as Pluto, Molly Clementz as Cupid, Evan Mitchell and David Geist as Jupiter, Kelsey Brown as Juno, James Deignan as Mars, Patrick Fagan as Mercury, Vanessa Libbey as Diana, Andrea Keuper as Venus and Tyler Reece as John Styx.

The production is co-directed by Karen Kanakis, associate professor of music, stage director; and Andrew Whitfield, associate professor of music, music director. The set and lighting design by guest designer Aime Hanyzewski.

Please see this video for a preview of the 2013 Luther College performanceof 'Orpheus in the Underworld'

Cast members Kathryn Lillich, Mickenzie Kruse, Andrea Keuper, Molly Clements, Vanessa Libbey, Kelsey Brown, and Nathan Wiley, portraying gods and goddesses on Mt. Olympus, stage a revolt.