plot overview | character descriptions | detailed synopsis

DETAILED SYNOPSIS

Click on song titles to hear samples from musical numbers as you read through the synopsis.

ACT ONE:

Early June, 1940. A train station on the outskirts of Toulon, in the South of France. With war on the distant horizon, Orpheus, a struggling violin player, accompanies his father, an accordion player, as they tour from café to café (C’est La Vie ). Orpheus longs to break away from his alcoholic father and search for the girl of his dreams (I’ll Find Her ).

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the train station, a theatrical troupe is waiting for their connection. With train service disrupted by the war, they find themselves trapped in the station for the evening. Among them is Eurydice, a young actress who travels in the troupe with her mother and her mother’s lover, Dulac. Dulac, who is also the producer of the troupe, continuously blackmails Eurydice into having physical relations with him. He feeds her a steady supply of morphine to keep her under his control. Eurydice secretly wishes that one day someone will come along and rescue her from her dreary existence (Hidden ).

The troupe’s leading man, Mathias, has intense passionate feelings for Eurydice. When Eurydice’s mother asks her why she avoids Mathias on their train rides, she answers simply that she isn’t in love with him. Eurydice’s mother tells her that she would be better off if she considered love not so much a matter of the heart as a matter of convenience. When Dulac and Eurydice’s mother begin to recount the night they met, their story quickly degenerates into vulgar proclamations of their “love” for each other (Comandantes de Pasion ). Offended by their false display, Eurydice goes out onto the train platform, where she finds herself drawn in by a violin melody floating on the air. She follows the sound of the violin and finds herself face to face with Orpheus.

As Orpheus meets Eurydice, a mysterious, otherworldly character that has been watching them from the opening of the play, Monsieur Henri, summons the misty night to work it’s magic. Orpheus is convinced that Eurydice is the woman he has been waiting for. Although Eurydice’s experiences with love have left her pessimistic, Orpheus pleads with her to believe in his love for her (Believe ).

Three girls in the troupe overhear their conversation and, wanting to create mischief, conspire to try to get Mathias to catch Orpheus and Eurydice together. They tell Mathias that they have seen Eurydice, and the night seems to be casting a spell on her, making her receptive to romance (We Thought You Should Know ). Mathias runs off to find Eurydice and seize the moment.

In the meantime, on a midnight walk through the fog along the train tracks, Orpheus and Eurydice have been sharing stories and opening up to each other. Eventually, they find themselves in a kiss and Orpheus asks Eurydice to run away with him. Eurydice, wanting to believe in his idea of a fated love agrees to join him (Believe Reprise ), but secretly fears that Orpheus’ feelings would change if he knew of her drug addiction and shameful affair.

Mathias enters, finding Eurydice in Orpheus’ arms. Eurydice tries to explain to Mathias that her feelings for him aren’t the same as those he has for her, but Mathias insists that he and Eurydice are fated for each other and he will wait for her, even if it has to be in another life (I’ll Wait ).

After Orpheus and Eurydice say goodbye to their parents (Beautiful, Elegant ), they leave the train station -- and their old lives -- behind (Let the World Move On ). When Eurydice’s mother tells Dulac that Eurydice has left, Dulac is incensed and vows to bring her back. There is sudden commotion on the train platform as members of the troupe discover that Mathias has thrown himself in front of an oncoming train.

ACT TWO:

Act Two opens with Eurydice in a dream state as Orpheus’ father and members of the troupe give their various pessimistic accounts of the dangerous of love (Amour ).

It is now late at night, two nights after Orpheus and Eurydice have left their parents. Eurydice suffers from withdrawal, which she claims to be the flu, as Orpheus tries to comfort her (My Darling ). Orpheus leaves to get her broth and medicine. While he is gone, Dulac arrives claiming that if Eurydice doesn't return to him, he will have his associates break Orpheus' fingers, rendering him useless as a musician. When Orpheus returns, Dulac tells Orpheus about Eurydice's drug habit. Defeated and shamed, Eurydice runs from the hotel room. Orpheus tells Dulac that he knew all along about her addiction (he had seen Dulac giving Eurydice a vial at the station before he met her) and that he was sure that he could save her from that life. Dulac insists that Orpheus has never really known Eurydice and tells Orpheus that she has long been his lover (Who Is Your Eurydice? ). Orpheus refuses to believe Dulac and leaves the hotel to find her.

Back at the train station, Eurydice writes a letter to Orpheus (Always ) before injecting herself with the contents from the vial Dulac placed in her purse. Orpheus, Dulac, Eurydice’s mother and others from the troupe arrive to find that Eurydice has died from an overdose – unbeknownst to her, the morphine that Dulac had given her this time was undiluted. Orpheus’ pain is unbearable and his wails are heard echoing through the night (Waking the Dead ). At the height of his grief, Orpheus injects himself with the remaining contents of the vial and suddenly finds himself in an unworldly space. Monsieur Henri appears and yearns to silence Orpheus’ cries by giving Eurydice back to him, but only under the condition that Orpheus not look at her face before he finds himself back in the world of the living. Henri warns Orpheus that even if he were to have her back, their life would be imperfect and their happiness together could be fleeting. Orpheus accepts the condition, proclaiming that he only wants a life with her, imperfect or not, and would accept her as she was with all her faults (I Want Us to Live ). He finds himself holding Eurydice’s hand once more.

Eurydice, now seeing the strength of Orpheus’ love for her, believes in it with the same abandon that Orpheus did when they first met. But soon, The Furies come out of the shadows and start to question Eurydice’s past and her motivations. Eurydice denies all they say, but Orpheus, not being able to see her face to read whether she is telling the truth or not, begins to doubt the strength of her love for him. Dulac appears and pulls Eurydice away from Orpheus. When Orpheus is no longer able to feel Eurydice’s hand, he turns around, full of jealousy and rage. He tears Dulac away from Eurydice and finds himself looking into her eyes (Purgatory ). Orpheus clings onto her but is unable to keep her from slipping back into death. Orpheus finds himself back at the side of his father, seemingly fated to spend the rest of his days with his old life.

Monsieur Henri offers Orpheus the chance to leave that life behind and join Eurydice in the afterlife, forever preserving their love as it was when they first met. Orpheus refuses to collaborate with death and insists that Eurydice is still with him-- she lives through his music. As he begins to play his violin, air-raid sirens are heard; Mussolini’s attack planes have arrived in Toulon. Others scramble for shelter, but Orpheus continues to play as the bombs begin to fall. With a large explosion, Orpheus suddenly finds himself looking once again in Eurydice’s eyes. She acts as if they are meeting for the first time as we see the mortals they’ve left behind, going on with their lives as the world is at war (Finale ).