Eurydice (Anouilh play)

Last updated
Dorothy McGuire and Richard Burton in the 1951 Broadway production Legend of Lovers Dorothy McGuire Richard Burton Legend of Lovers 1952.jpg
Dorothy McGuire and Richard Burton in the 1951 Broadway production Legend of Lovers

Eurydice is a play by French writer Jean Anouilh, written in 1941. The story is set in the 1930s, among a troupe of travelling performers. It combines skepticism about romance in general and the intensity of the relationship between Orpheus and Eurydice with an other-worldly mysticism. The result is a heavily ironic modern retelling of the classical Orpheus myth. The play has also been performed under the title Point of Departure, a translation by Kitty Black, and on Broadway as Legend of Lovers, in a 1951 production by the Theatre Guild.



Eurydice is the daughter of the leading actress in a second-rate acting troupe. The troupe is waiting in a train station. Orphée is a violinist at the station restaurant. Eurydice and Orphée meet and fall in love instantly. Eurydice rejects the advances of a young man named Matthew—who is her lover and a fellow member of the troupe. Orphée is repulsed at the thought of Matthew having touched his love, but Eurydice reassures him that he and one other man who took her virginity are her only two previous lovers. Orphée notes that he can tell when Eurydice is lying because of the color of her eyes changes accordingly. Offstage, Matthew throws himself under a train in despair of Eurydice's rejection, and humbled by this news, the couple runs away together. They are followed by both M. Henri, a mysterious figure, and Dulac, the manager of the acting troupe. In a hotel room the next day, Eurydice and Orphée discuss the identity as something grounded in the past or in the present. Eurydice becomes uncomfortable with Orphée's insistence that the past matters a great amount. While Orphée is out of the room, Eurydice is visited by a hotel worker and given a mysterious letter. She reads it and leaves the hotel room when Orphée returns, claiming that she needs to run errands. After she exits, Dulac enters the room and reveals to Orphée that Eurydice is his mistress, too. Orphée does not believe him, but before he can confirm the truth with Eurydice, the two men receive word that she has died in a car crash—and that the car was not going to the market, but on its way out of town.

M. Henri, the mysterious man, is moved to compassion for Orphée and makes a bargain with him: If Orphée wants his beloved back, it is possible; he simply has to wait at the train station beside her spirit until sunrise—but he cannot look into her eyes or she will die a second death. Eurydice is brought back to life. As they sit and wait, Orphée brings up the subject of Dulac. Eurydice insists that she never slept with him, but Orphée cannot know for sure without looking into her eyes. Driven crazy with uncertainty, he does so and she admits that she was in fact Dulac's lover. However, Dulac had blackmailed her into doing it every time, threatening to fire a young, orphaned stage manager working in the troupe. The police officer who found Eurydice's body enters, reading a letter that she wrote in the taxi to Orphée. It reveals that she planned to leave town because she was so in love with Orphée, and knew that her promiscuous past was something he could never overcome—despite the fact that her love for him had made her pure again. She dies once more, leaving Orphée miserable and alone with his mess of a father. Distraught, he talks with M. Henri, who convinces him that the perfect relationship he envisioned having with Eurydice is still possible...but only in death. In fact, if she hadn't died, M. Henri says, the relationship would have eventually disappointed him. Reassured that he will be with his true love in death, Orphée kills himself offstage. As ghosts, the couple reunites on stage, happy and in love forever more. [1]


BBC THIRD PROGRAMME, 5/2/51. Cast included Paul Scofield, Esme Percy and Sebastian Cabot. Held at The British Library National Sound Archive, Find Format: T11629WR C1 [2]


Related Research Articles

<i>Orpheus in the Underworld</i> Opéra bouffon by Jacques Offenbach

Orpheus in the Underworld and Orpheus in Hell are English names for Orphée aux enfers, a comic opera with music by Jacques Offenbach and words by Hector Crémieux and Ludovic Halévy. It was first performed as a two-act "opéra bouffon" at the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens, Paris, on 21 October 1858, and was extensively revised and expanded in a four-act "opéra féerie" version, presented at the Théâtre de la Gaîté, Paris, on 7 February 1874.

<i>Alphaville</i> (film) 1965 French science fiction neo-noir film

Alphaville: une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution is a 1965 French New Wave science fiction neo-noir film directed by Jean-Luc Godard. It stars Eddie Constantine, Anna Karina, Howard Vernon and Akim Tamiroff. The film won the Golden Bear award of the 15th Berlin International Film Festival in 1965.

<i>2046</i> (film) 2004 Hong Kong romantic drama film

2046 is a 2004 romantic drama film written and directed by Wong Kar-wai. An international co-production between Hong Kong, France, Italy, China and Germany, it is a loose sequel to Wong's films Days of Being Wild (1990) and In the Mood for Love (2000). It follows the aftermath of Chow Mo-wan's unconsummated affair with Su Li-zhen in 1960s Hong Kong but also includes some science fiction elements and makes frequent references to the date of 24 December or Christmas Eve, on which many significant events in the film occur.

<i>Orpheus</i> (film) 1950 French film

Orpheus is a 1950 French film directed by Jean Cocteau and starring Jean Marais. It is the central part of Cocteau's Orphic Trilogy, which consists of The Blood of a Poet (1930), Orpheus (1950), and Testament of Orpheus (1960).

<i>Orfeo ed Euridice</i> Opera by Christoph Willibald Gluck

Orfeo ed Euridice is an opera composed by Christoph Willibald Gluck, based on the myth of Orpheus and set to a libretto by Ranieri de' Calzabigi. It belongs to the genre of the azione teatrale, meaning an opera on a mythological subject with choruses and dancing. The piece was first performed at the Burgtheater in Vienna on 5 October 1762, in the presence of Empress Maria Theresa. Orfeo ed Euridice is the first of Gluck's "reform" operas, in which he attempted to replace the abstruse plots and overly complex music of opera seria with a "noble simplicity" in both the music and the drama.


Iseult, alternatively Isolde is the name of several characters in the legend of Tristan and Iseult. The most prominent is Iseult of Ireland, the wife of Mark of Cornwall and the lover, later, the wife of Tristan. Her mother, the queen of Ireland, is also named Iseult. The third is Iseult of the White Hands, the daughter of Hoel of Brittany and the sister of Kahedin.

Eurydice is a 2003 play by Sarah Ruhl which retells the myth of Orpheus from the perspective of Eurydice, his wife. The story focuses on Eurydice's choice to return to earth with Orpheus or to stay in the underworld with her father. Ruhl made several changes to the original myth's story-line. The most noticeable of these changes was that in the myth Orpheus succumbs to his desires and looks back at Eurydice, while in Ruhl's version Eurydice calls out to Orpheus perhaps in part because of her fear of reentering the world of the living and perhaps as a result of her desire to remain in the land of the dead with her father. Ruhl's script has been explicitly written so as to be a playground for the designer of the sets. The play was the basis for an opera, Eurydice, which premiered in 2020.

<i>Lovers of the Arctic Circle</i> 1998 Spanish film

Lovers of the Arctic Circle, also known as The Lovers from the North Pole, is a 1998 Spanish romantic drama film written and directed by Julio Médem and starring Najwa Nimri and Fele Martínez. It won two Goya Awards in 1999.

<i>Martin Roumagnac</i> 1946 French film

Martin Roumagnac is a 1946 French crime film directed by Georges Lacombe. It tells the story of a builder in a small town who falls for a glamorous but treacherous femme fatale, with tragic results for both. It is notable as the only occasion in which the two major stars Jean Gabin and Marlene Dietrich, lovers in real life, appeared together on screen.

La descente dOrphée aux enfers Opera by Marc-Antoine Charpentier

La descente d'Orphée aux enfers H.488 is an incomplete chamber opera in two acts by the French composer Marc-Antoine Charpentier. It was probably composed in early 1686 and performed either in the apartments of the Dauphin that spring or at Fontainebleau in the autumn. Charpentier himself sang the title role, joined by musicians of Mademoiselle de Guise and members of the Dauphin’s little ensemble; it was Charpentier’s last appearance with this ensemble.

Orpheus and Eurydice Ancient Greek legend

The ancient legend of Orpheus and Eurydice concerns the fateful love of Orpheus of Thrace for the beautiful Eurydice. Orpheus was the son of Apollo and the muse Calliope. It may be a late addition to the Orpheus myths, as the latter cult-title suggests those attached to Persephone. It may have been derived from a legend in which Orpheus travels to Tartarus and charms the goddess Hecate.

<i>Orpheus</i> (Telemann)

Orpheus is an opera in three acts by the German composer Georg Philipp Telemann. It was first performed in a concert version at the Oper am Gänsemarkt in Hamburg on 9 March 1726. The anonymous libretto is based on the 1690 opera Orphée by Michel Duboullay, originally set by the French composer Louis Lully. Most of the work is in German but it also contains passages in French and Italian drawn from famous operas by Handel and Jean-Baptiste Lully. The music to these words is Telemann's own, however. The manuscript score of Telemann's Orpheus was not rediscovered until the late 20th century.

Orpheus legendary musician, poet, and prophet in ancient Greek mythology

Orpheus is a legendary musician and prophet in ancient Greek religion. He was also a renowned poet and, according to the legend, travelled with Jason and the Argonauts in search of the Golden Fleece.

<i>Hotel America</i> 1981 French film

Hôtel des Amériques is a 1981 French drama film directed by André Téchiné, starring Catherine Deneuve and Patrick Dewaere. The film, set in Biarritz, tells the ill-fated romance of mismatched lovers. This is the first of several collaborations between Téchiné and Deneuve, who became his favorite actress.


Eurydice was a character in Greek mythology and the wife of Orpheus, who tried to bring her back from the dead with his enchanting music.

<i>Hadestown</i> (album) 2010 studio album by Anaïs Mitchell

Hadestown is the fourth album by Vermont-based Anaïs Mitchell, and was released by Righteous Babe Records on March 9, 2010. The concept album, which later produced the stage musical of the same name, follows a variation on the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, where Orpheus must embark on a quest to rescue his wife Eurydice from the underworld. It has been advertised as a "folk opera". Several of the songs feature singers other than Mitchell, including Justin Vernon, Ani DiFranco, Greg Brown, and Tanya, Petra and Rachel Haden.

<i>The Medusa Frequency</i>

The Medusa Frequency is a 1987 novel by Russell Hoban. Written in a lyrical, often magic realist style, it crosses a number of genres including comedy and fantasy without fitting easily into any. Its themes include loss, fidelity, mythology, perception and creativity.

<i>Hadestown</i> Broadway musical about Orpheus and Eurydice

Hadestown is a musical with music, lyrics and book by Anaïs Mitchell. It tells a version of the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, where Orpheus goes to the underworld to rescue his lover, Eurydice.

<i>Eurydice</i> (Aucoin) Opera by Matthew Aucoin

Eurydice is an opera composed by Matthew Aucoin with a libretto by Sarah Ruhl based on her 2003 play of the same name. It had its premiere at the Los Angeles Opera on February 1, 2020, with Aucoin conducting. It was scheduled to receive its Metropolitan Opera premiere in November 2020, but was postponed to 2021 due to Covid-19. The director was Mary Zimmerman.


  1. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 13, 2010. Retrieved August 1, 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. "Audio descr".

Legend of Lovers at the Internet Broadway Database