Document Type

Student Paper

Publication Date

Fall 12-11-2019


Dramatic Literature, Criticism and Theory | Music | Music Education | Theatre History

Description, Abstract, or Artist's Statement

This paper analyzes the symbolic meaning within Monteverdi’s operatic version of the fable of Orpheus, a demigod who has a talent for music. When Orpheus’ bride Eurydice died suddenly from a snake bite, he decides to seek her soul in the Underworld and bring her back to the land of the living. This task does not prove to be as easy for Orpheus as he initially thinks, when he finds himself losing her twice during the course of the five acts. To show how his journey unfolds, and the meaning behind each step, we will develop the symbolic meaning in each of the major incidents and show the devices used within this opera. Our research shows that through the power of the famed lyre of Apollo, Orpheus is able to accomplish most of all that he sets out to do through the power of music. This power as well as other themes of love, trust, hope, and rebirth are represented in the many symbols present in this opera such as the lyre, the river, snakes, representations of light and dark and symbols associated with Christianity. This style of favola in musica revolutionized the music world because it showed that words and the emotions carry the music more than the melody. Toward the end of Act 4, Orpheus is seen losing his true love forever proving that there is one condition that even he cannot escape, and that is death.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.