“The musical Hadestown (music, lyrics, and book by Anaïs Mitchell) brings a new take on the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. Much like Dante in the Inferno, the characters of Orpheus in Hadestown travel through an inferno-like factory run by Hades, the god of the underworld. Although the tragic hero Orpheus is mentioned in Canto IV of Dante’s Inferno, the similarities between the Divine Comedy and Hadestown do not stop there.” –Contributor Ava Buchanan
A notable link between the musical and the Inferno is the staging of the piece, which relies heavily on circular motion to move the plot forward (a common motif employed by Dante). Furthermore, the character of Hermes within the musical acts as a Virgil-like guide for Orpheus with the added omnipresent, post-narrative knowledge of Dante “the Poet”.
As a side note, the official Hadestown website notes that it is a “haunting and hopeful theatrical experience that grabs you and never lets go.” This statement echoes Peter Hawkins who – in his biographic essay on Dante – states that “no one remains unchanged by the Commedia.”
The original cast Broadway cast recording of Hadestown can be found here.
Contributed by Ava Buchanan (University of Arkansas, ’23)