Orpheus in the Underworld  

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Orphée aux enfers (Orpheus in the Underworld), opéra bouffe (or opéra féerie in its revised version), is an operetta by Jacques Offenbach. The French text was written by Ludovic Halévy and later revised by Hector-Jonathan Crémieux.

The work, first performed in 1858, is said to be the first classical full-length operetta. Offenbach's earlier operettas were small-scale one-act works, since the law in France did not allow certain genres of full-length works. Orpheus was not only longer, but more musically adventurous than Offenbach's earlier pieces.

This marked also the first time that Offenbach used Greek mythology as a backdrop for one of his buffooneries. The operetta is an irreverent parody and scathing satire on Gluck and his Orfeo ed Euridice and culminated in the risqué galop infernal (often copied, widely used as the background music for the Can-can dance, and erroneously called "Can-can") that shocked some in the audience at the premiere. Other targets of satire, as would become typical in Offenbach's burlesques, are the stilted performances of classical drama at the Comédie Française and the scandals in society and politics of the Second French Empire.

The Infernal Galop from Act II, Scene 2 is famous outside classical circles as the music for the "Can-can". Saint-Saëns borrowed the Galop, slowed it to a crawl and assigned it to the strings to represent the tortoise in The Carnival of the Animals.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Orpheus in the Underworld" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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