Synopsis: La descente d'Orphée aux enfers
Orpheus' Abstieg in die Unterwelt - Orpheus's Descent into the Underworld
from Marc-Antoine Charpentier
Eurydice (Euridice) and her nvmphs are preparing to celebrate her marriage to Orpheus (Orphée) when she is fatally bitten by a snake. Orpheus enters and witnesses Eurydice’s death; he is about to take his own life when his father Apollo (Apollon) appears and exhorts him to enter the Underworld and try to win his lover back through the power of his singing.
Orpheus reaches the Underworld where his singing soothes the souls in torment. He appeals to Pluto (Pluton), the lord of the Underworld, for the return of Eurydice. Pluto resists but is eventually won round by Orpheus’s singing and by the persuasion of his wife Proserpina (Proserpine). Orpheus is permitted to lead Eurydice out of the Underworld on condition that he never turns round to look at her. A chorus of spirits bewail the fact that Orpheus is to leave them.