Theatre: Hadestown

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.

  1. "Wedding Song" featuring Justin Vernon (3:18)
  2. "Epic (Part I)" featuring Justin Vernon (2:22)
  3. "Way Down Hadestown" featuring Justin Vernon, Ani DiFranco and Ben Knox Miller (3:33)
  4. "Songbird Intro" (0:24)
  5. "Hey, Little Songbird" featuring Greg Brown (3:09)
  6. "Gone, I'm Gone" featuring The Haden Triplets (1:09)
  7. "When the Chips are Down" featuring The Haden Triplets (2:14)
  8. "Wait for Me" featuring Ben Knox Miller and Justin Vernon (3:06)
  9. "Why We Build the Wall" featuring Greg Brown (4:18)
  10. "Our Lady of the Underground" featuring Ani DiFranco (4:40)
  11. "Flowers (Eurydice's Song)" (3:33)
  12. "Nothing Changes" featuring The Haden Triplets (0:52)
  13. "If it's True" featuring Justin Vernon (3:03)
  14. "Papers (Hades Finds Out)" (1:24)
  15. "How Long?" featuring Ani DiFranco and Greg Brown (3:36)
  16. "Epic (Part II)" featuring Justin Vernon (2:55)
  17. "Lover's Desire" (2:05)
  18. "His Kiss, The Riot" featuring Greg Brown (4:03)
  19. "Doubt Comes In" featuring Justin Vernon (5:32)
  20. "I Raise My Cup to Him" featuring Ani DiFranco (2:10)