Orphée aux enfers was Offenbach's first full-length opera.
The original 1858 production became a box-office success, and ran well into the following year, rescuing Offenbach and his Bouffes company from financial difficulty.
The opera is a lampoon of the ancient legend of Orpheus and Eurydice.
In this version Orpheus is not the son of Apollo but a rustic violin teacher.
Business received an inadvertent boost from the critic Jules Janin of the Journal des débats.
He had praised earlier productions at the Bouffes-Parisiens but was roused to vehement indignation at what he maintained was a blasphemous, lascivious outrage – "a profanation of holy and glorious antiquity".
When Orphée mistakes Eurydice for her, everything comes out, and Eurydice insists they abandon the marriage.
Orphée, fearing Public Opinion's reaction, torments his wife into keeping the scandal quiet using violin music, which she hates ("Ah, c'est ainsi").
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.