Originally published November 28, 2007.
Set in a postapocalyptic “company town” and laced with striking thematic elements that evoke the darkest days of the Depression, Hadestown is an ambitious and imaginative retelling of the Greek tragedy of Orpheus and Eurydice. It opens this Thursday at the Barre Opera House, the first of a seven-date tour.
While interpretations of the classical myth are hardly rare, Anaïs Mitchell’s version is unique in style and scope. It draws from a deep well of musical and theatrical ingenuity to present the tale in compelling and, at times, sinister fashion. Employing the considerable talents of a cadre of local performers, Montpelier-based Mitchell has painstakingly fleshed out the fated lovers’ tale, injecting it with startling compassion and eerie parallels to authoritarianism past and present.
“It’s a songwriter’s wet dream to write this story,” explains Mitchell, 25, “because the hero is a very powerful musician who can battle the powers-that-be with his songs.”