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Orpheus in the Underworld Overture

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Jacques Offenbach

Jacques Offenbach (arr. Lake and Kent)

General Info

Year: 1858/1946
Duration: c. 4:00
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Carl Fischer

Cost: Score and Parts - Out of print


Full Score
D-flat Piccolo
C Piccolo/Flute III
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet Solo-I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Bass Saxophone
Cornets Solo-I-II-III
E-flat Horn or Alto I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass

(percussion detail needed)


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The music of this overture is well known throughout world. The plot of the opera, not so well known, concerns the mythological musician Orpheus and his wife, Eurydice. Their domestic life leaves much to be desired, and Orpheus seeks happiness with Chloe, the beautiful shepherdess. His wife is in love with the shepherd, Aristeus, who is Pluto in disguise. On one occasion Eurydice is gathering flowers in the meadow, and by some mischance Orpheus mistakes her for Chloe; his perfidy is discovered, and Eurydice flies to Hades with Aristeus. Orpheus is delighted to have disposed of her so easily, but Popular Opinion demands that he make some effort to recover his spouse. Therefore Orpheus accuses Pluto before Jupiter, and all the gods of Olympus decide to accompany Orpheus to investigate the charges.

Eurydice is hidden in a secret chamber and is guarded by a stupid lout called John Styx. Jupiter, disguised as a fly, enters the chamber and buys Eurydice’s love with the promise of freedom. Pluto is compelled to return her to Orpheus, who is to receive her only if he can reach the river without turning to look at his wife. But Jupiter is plotting to keep Eurydice himself, and he causes a blinding flash of lightning, which forces Orpheus to turn his head and look back. Thus Jupiter retains Eurydice in subjection as a Bacchante, and Orpheus returns happily to Chloe.

- Program Note by Program Notes for Band

Commercial Discography

None discovered thus far.

State Ratings

  • Alabama: Class A
  • North Carolina: VI
  • South Carolina: V

Recent Performances

To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

Works for Winds by this Composer

Adaptable Music

  • The Can-Can (Flex instrumentation) (arr. Thorp) (1858/2008)

All Wind Works


  • Offenbach, J.; Kent, H.; Lake, M. (1946). Orpheus: Overture [score]. Carl Fischer : New York.
  • Smith, Norman E. (2002). Program Notes for Band. Chicago: GIA Publications. pp. 452.