Orpheus and Eurydike is Pina Bausch's masterpiece and the ultimate symbol of her choreographic genius. It is here danced by the Ballet de l'Opéra national de Paris.
From the outset it had been Gluck's wish that Orpheus and Eurydike should have a dance accompaniment; and it was Pina Bausch's respect for his dramatic power that led her to transform the work into a tanzoper, a danced opera. Her version tackles the genre head on in its expression of Orpheus's suffering, the suffering human beings must overcome in confronting unquenched desire.
The dramatis personae – Orpheus, Eurydike and Cupid – are voices. But they are, too, bodies that dance. Pina Bausch's aim was to create characters who are split, as if torn between their “singing” and “dancing” natures.
Rather than contradicting Gluck, this version of the myth takes his vision further – and darkens it. While the free flow of the dance reveals bodies driven by love, it also, and above all, suggests their vulnerability. The singing entreats Zeus and moves him; but the dancing – bare feet anchored to the earth – is a reminder of the human condition, of the ineluctability of death.