Hadestown - SYNOPSIS

2016 stage musical adaptation of a folk opera by Anaïs Mitchell

Act I

As in the 2010 album, Hadestown adapts the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice to a Great Depression-era inspired post-apocalyptic setting. The musical opens with the three Fates describing the setting ("Any Way the Wind Blows"), after which Hermes, the narrator, enters to introduce each of the characters ("Road to Hell"). The stage empties, leaving only Orpheus and Eurydice. The two introduce themselves to each other, and Orpheus asks Eurydice to marry him ("Come Home With Me"). Eurydice is doubtful, since they both live in poverty and she wants a life of stability. Orpheus persuades her by telling her that his music will provide for them ("Wedding Song").

After an interlude in which Orpheus tells the story of Hades and Persephone ("Epic (Part I)"), Persephone enters to celebrate the summertime with Orpheus and Eurydice ("Living It Up On Top"). Orpheus makes a toast to Persephone and expresses hope for his future with Eurydice, who reflects on her growing love for Orpheus despite her independence ("All I've Ever Known"). The two promise to stay with each other no matter what hardships they face.

Winter comes, and along with it a train to bring Persephone back to Hadestown – Hades' underground factory. Orpheus and Eurydice watch as Persephone voices her misery at having to return to the factory, while the Fates appear to praise Hadestown's riches. Orpheus condemns Hades' treatment of his workers, but Eurydice is intrigued ("Way Down Hadestown"). As winter progresses, Orpheus continues to write music while Eurydice urges him to work so they can have food and shelter. At the same time, Hades and Persephone fight about the decline of their own relationship ("Epic (Part II)/Chant").

Hades leaves the factory to find someone who will appreciate the safety and comfort of Hadestown. He comes across Eurydice and asks her to join him in Hadestown ("Hey Little Songbird"). The Fates arrive, and urge Eurydice to put her survival first ("When the Chips are Down"). With Orpheus away working on his music, Eurydice decides to follow Hades to the factory ("Gone, I'm Gone"). When Orpheus returns to look for Eurydice, Hermes tells him that she's gone to Hadestown and tells Orpheus how to get there without using Hades' train ("Wait For Me"). Eurydice arrives at Hadestown, and begins her work on the wall surrounding it ("Why We Build the Wall").

Act II

Following an entr'acte where Persephone introduces herself and the band, and serves drinks to the audience ("Our Lady Of The Underground"), we see Eurydice realizing the true consequences of her choice to come to Hadestown: she can never leave unless Hades chooses to let her go ("Way Down Hadestown II"). After signing her contract with Hades, she sings of her regrets with allusions to a sexual assault ("Flowers").

Orpheus, having made his way to Hadestown following Hermes' directions, finds Eurydice and begs her to come home and marry him. Eurydice and the Fates tell Orpheus that she legally belongs to Hades and can't return without his permission ("Come Home With Me II"). Hades arrives, and Orpheus confronts him. Hades asserts that he does own Eurydice, and attempts to chase Orpheus off his property ("Papers"). The Fates surround an exhausted Orpheus and tell him to give up on saving Eurydice ("Nothing Changes"). Orpheus sings of his despair at losing Eurydice, which Persephone overhears ("If It's True"). Touched by Orpheus' music, Persephone tells Hades to let Eurydice go ("How Long"). Hades offers to give Orpheus a chance to sing for him ("Chant II"). Orpheus sings a version of the song he'd been writing when Eurydice left, reminding Hades of his love for Persephone ("Epic (Part III)"). Hades is affected more than he had expected, and the Fates explain his dilemma: if he keeps Eurydice captive, she becomes a martyr, but if he lets her go, then he loses his authoritarian control over the factory ("Word to the Wise"). He decides to leave their fate in Orpheus' hands: the couple can leave together, but Orpheus has to lead them out. If he turns to see if Eurydice is following him, she will belong to Hades forever ("His Kiss, The Riot").

Hermes explains Hades' decision to Orpheus and Eurydice, who discuss all of their doubts with the hope of being able to trust one another on their way out ("Promises"). Orpheus begins the walk out of Hadestown with Eurydice following him, guided in part by the Fates ("Wait for Me II"). Orpheus makes it right up until the very end of the journey, when he is overcome with doubt and turns to look for Eurydice – only to see that she's been right behind him all along, thus condemning her to stay in Hadestown forever ("Doubt Comes In"). Hermes leads Eurydice back to Hadestown ("Road to Hell II"), and the show closes with Persephone raising a toast to Orpheus ("I Raise My Cup").

Other Album Songs: Hadestown the Musical Songs w. Lyrics
Synopsis to Hadestown musical