Hadestown by Anaïs Mitchell | Summary, Themes & Analysis

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CreatorAnaïs Mitchell
Premiere dateMarch 9, 2010
LabelRighteous Babe Records
GenreFolk opera, musical
Based onGreek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice
SettingThe underworld, a post-apocalyptic world
CharactersOrpheus, Eurydice, Hades, Persephone, Hermes


The narrative of two couples, Orpheus and Eurydice, Hades and Persephone is told in the musical “Hadestown” by Anaïs Mitchell. The narrative takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where people are fighting to live due to a lack of resources.


In a post-apocalyptic world, Orpheus, a musician, falls in love with Eurydice. Eurydice goes to Hadestown, ruled by Hades, to seek work and is trapped there. Orpheus goes to rescue her and strikes a deal with Hades, but fails to fulfill it and loses Eurydice forever.

Watch the Full Summary of “Hadestown”

Hadestown Summary

Orpheus is a gifted musician who can enchant anybody with his music but he is having financial difficulties. He meets Eurydice, a young lady who is likewise battling to live, and the two fall in love. Eurydice is promised by Orpheus that he would take her to Hadestown, where the king, Hades, promises to provide her food, shelte and safety.

Hades is a rich, ruthless king who makes a contract with the devil. In return for their souls. He assures his followers that he would provide them whatever they require. The goddess of spring, Persephone, who is wedded to Hades, yearns to return to the world above since she is sick of living in Hadestown.

Traveling to Hadestown, Orpheus and Eurydice discover that not everything is as it seems. Eurydice is imprisoned in Hadestown after Hades exchanged her soul for the promise of a better life. Hades rejects Orpheus’ attempts to persuade him to let Eurydice go.

Hades decides to release Eurydice on the condition that Orpheus escorts her back to the world above without turning around after moving the whole underworld, including the Fates, to tears with his song.

Eurydice urges Orpheus to turn back and gaze at her as they emerge from the underworld, their love and tenacity keeping them going. Before they depart the underworld, she longs to see the man she loves’ face, but Orpheus recalls their predicament and forbids her.

In the play’s ending scene, Orpheus enters the light of the world above, his heart overflowing with happiness and hope but as he turns back to hug Eurydice, he observes her slipping away into the shadows, once more being engulfed by the underworld.

Nothing Changes“, the chorus sings as the music builds. When the curtain closes, Orpheus is left by himself, heartbroken and bereft, serving as a devastating reminder to the audience of the strength of love, the frailty of life and the unbreakable links that bind us all together.


The musical “Hadestown” portrays the tale of two couples in a post-apocalyptic setting: Orpheus and Eurydice, Hades and Persephone. Themes of love, sacrifice, grief and the value of trust in relationships are all explored. With strong voices and complex instrumentals, the music is a combination of folk, blues and jazz.

About the Creator

Anas Mitchell is a folk and indie singer-songwriter and guitarist. In Vermont, United States, she was born on March 26, 1981. Early in her adolescence, Mitchell began to compose and perform her own music. In 2002, she published her debut album, “The Song They Sang… When Rome Fall.”

Along with her solo albums, Mitchell has worked on projects with other musicians. Justin Vernon of Bon Iver and has shared the stage with performers like Josh Ritter and Punch Brothers. Her creative lyrics and distinctive musical approach have made her a recognizable presence in the indie folk music industry.


What is Hadestown?

Anas Mitchell wrote the musical Hadestown, which made its Off-Broadway debut in 2016. The Orpheus and Eurydice story from classical Greece is being modernized and set during the Great Depression.

What is the plot of Hadestown?

In the post-apocalyptic America of the Great Depression, the musical Hadestown tells the story of Orpheus and Eurydice from the ancient Greek mythology. In order to save his beloved Eurydice from the grasp of Hades, the god of the underworld, the narrative follows struggling musician Orpheus as he journeys into the underworld.

Who are some of the notable actors who have starred in Hadestown?

Reeve Carney as Orpheus – Carney is an American actor and musician who has also starred in the TV series Penny Dreadful.
Eva Noblezada as Eurydice – Noblezada is a Filipino-American actress who has also starred in the Broadway revival of Miss Saigon.
André De Shields as Hermes – De Shields is an American actor and director who has also appeared in The Wiz and Ain’t Misbehavin’.
Amber Gray as Persephone – Gray is an American actress and singer who has also appeared in Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812.
Patrick Page as Hades – Page is an American actor who has also appeared in the Broadway productions of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and Casa Valentina.

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