“Worthy of eternal glory / Will be he who has victory over himself.” Those lines, which conclude Act 4 of Claudio Monteverdi’s music drama “Orfeo,” encapsulate the composer’s take on the Greek myth in which Orpheus is permitted to retrieve his just-deceased bride-to-be, Eurydice, from Hades on condition that he not look back at her as she follows him on their way out. He does not have victory over himself: He has to look to reassure himself that she’s there, and so loses her forever.
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