Taking place on a sunny April day, Orpheus opens in a state of confusion and disorder. The Horse is tapping letters destined to become Orpheus’ verse; Orpheus anxiously awaits the final letters; Eurydice views the source of her husband’s inspiration as absurd. Orpheus misconstrues the Horse’s oracular sentence as an acronym meaning “thank you,” and his attention to the Horse incites Eurydice’s anger. Oblivious to Eurydice’s jealousy, Orpheus is preoccupied with the Horse’s composition, the banal sentence that will enable him to win the poetry competition and will assure his immortality: “Madame Eurydice will return from Hades.” Verbal insults escalate into physical violence. Orpheus, exasperated by his wife’s bickering, shatters a windowpane and invites her to call the glazier Heurtebise. Eurydice, according to Orpheus, has repeatedly smashed windows as a pretext to see Heurtebise; the repairman, he asserts, has become an object of his wife’s attention.
After embracing the Horse and relegating his wife to the status of a lackey, Orpheus leaves the house. In scene 3, Eurydice confesses to Heurtebise the strain they are under. She sees Aglaonice, leader of the Bacchantes, as the source of the conflict. Orpheus, she remembers, despises Aglaonice. As a former member of Aglaonice’s sect, which is opposed to men, Eurydice believes that her prior association with the priestess is inciting Orpheus’ jealousy and anger. Aglaonice is sympathetic to Eurydice’s situation and has prepared poisoned sugar for the Horse. Heurtebise has brought, along with the sugar, a poisoned envelope that will enable Eurydice to send a letter. Heurtebise stands on a chair to feed the Horse. Unexpectedly, Orpheus returns in the subsequent scene to fetch his birth certificate. He removes the chair, leaving the glazier hanging in midair. In scene 6, Eurydice asks for explanations of the bewildering phenomena of a talking horse and a suspended body. Heurtebise is equally puzzled. Eurydice finds her letter to Aglaonice and, inadvertently licking the envelope, dies.
Death, personified as a beautiful young woman in pink evening dress, enters through a mirror, accompanied by her assistants Azarael and Raphael. She finishes the task begun by Heurtebise. Her assistants provide rubber gloves, and Death administers the poisoned sugar to the Horse.
Heurtebise had left the villa to find Orpheus. In scene 7, both return, and Orpheus...
(The entire section is 1008 words.)