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Touted as a "folk opera", Hadestown is a musical and (more famously) a Concept Album written and produced by Anais Mitchell. It's a retelling of the Orpheus myth set in a post-apocalyptic world that mimics The Great Depression in the United States. Originally performed as a small-scale stage musical in Vermont, Mitchell extensively revised the work for the 2010 recording, which received critical acclaim. The album version has since been performed live at various locations, including New York and Virginia.

Hadestown opens above-ground, with Eurydice worrying about how her lover Orpheus will provide for her in this poverty-stricken post-apocalyptic world. They arrive at an old train depot, where everyone’s talking about Hadestown, a walled city under the ground. Hades, the enigmatic king of Hadestown, comes calling for Eurydice when Orpheus is gone and seduces her to the wealth and security of his underworld. With directions from Hermes, Orpheus follows Eurydice underground.

Meanwhile, in Hadestown, Hades indoctrinates his worker-citizens, but when he turns his back, his wife Persephone subverts his efforts by plying her contraband from the outside world in a hidden speakeasy. She takes an interest in the newly arrived Orpheus. Eurydice, unaware that her lover is near, laments her decision to follow Hades. Orpheus moves toward her, but is intercepted by the Fates, who tell him struggling is pointless. Orpheus challenges the Fates, and shortly thereafter Hades discovers both Orpheus and the speakeasy.

In the royal bedroom, Persephone appeals to her husband on Orpheus’s behalf. Orpheus, too, appeals to Hades, and his singing starts a riot in Hadestown. Desperate, Hades comes up with a plan: Orpheus can have Eurydice back if he can walk out of the underworld ahead of her without turning around to make sure she’s there. Orpheus and Eurydice begin their ascent, but when Orpheus reaches the surface, he immediately turns around. Since Eurydice is still in the underworld, she becomes permanently trapped there, and Orpheus is left to Walk the Earth alone.

The album stars Mitchell as Eurydice, Justin Vernon (of Bon Iver) as Orpheus, Ani DiFranco as Persephone, Greg Brown as Hades, Ben Knox Miller (of The Low Anthem) as Hermes, and the Haden Triplets as the Fates.

Tropes used in Hadestown include:


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 Persephone: Six feet under getting under your skin/Cabin fever is a-setting in

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 Hades: Nothing makes a man so bold/As a woman's smile and a hand to hold/But all alone his blood runs thin/And doubt comes-- [Hesitant Dramatic Pause] doubt comes in.

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 Hades: Always a pity for one so pretty and young/When poverty comes to clip your wings/And knock the wind right out of your lungs...

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 Hermes: Either get to hell or to Hadestown/Ain't no difference any more!

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