When Jacques Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld was first performed in France in the 1850s it was condemned as scandalous.
The opera was called “a profanation of holy and glorious antiquity. A desecration of the golds!”
Modern audiences can judge for themselves when the Opera della Luna performs at Stowe this weekend.
A company of multi-talented singers, comedians and dancers will cast a satirical eye on our own society in much the same way that Offenbach’s original lambasted second Empire Paris.
The early performances of Orpheus were not rapturously received, but the box office was slowly improving until the stinging review from Jules Janin.
His declaration that Orpheus “was a desecration of the gods!” transformed its fortunes.
It became an overnight sellout – what no doubt caused Parisians to flock to the show was its lampooning of the Regime and of the part that they, the middle class themselves, played within it.
It seemed that all of Paris flocked to the tiny Bouffes-Parisiennes to see it. The waltzes and gallops were played constantly from the Tuileries to the smallest taverns, the infantry even marched to its tunes.
And of coruse the Galop Infernal or Can Can became one of the most famous dance tunes ever written.
Opera della Luna is putting on two performances of Orpheus in the Roxburgh Hall at Stowe at 7.30pm on Saturday, July 18 and at 6pm on Sunday, July 19. Tickets cost £60 from 01608 642350.
Patrons are welcome to take a picnic along and dine alfresco on the South Front of Stowe from two hours prior to the performance.
The running time of the performance is 150 minutes including an itnerval.