Wolfgang-Andreas Schultz


Divino Orfeo

Musical Story Inspired by an Idea by Calderón for Flute, Viola, Harp, and Orchestra


2 flutes (second can be alto flute in G); oboe, English horn; clarinet in A, bass clarinet in B flat; 2 bassoons; 2 trumpets, 2 horns, 2 trombones; piano, timpani, 1 percussionist; strings: 8 first and 6 second violins, 4 violas, 4 celli, and 3 double-basses, in addition a string-quartet – if possible situated in a different place – which should act as stage music.


ca. 35 minutes

"Divino Orfeo" is one of the spiritual dramas by the Spanish Baroque poet Calderón de la Barca. In this drama, Orpheus is the divine voice that creates the world through his singing. Then antiquity and Christianity are joined in parallel – a tradition that goes back to the church father Clemens of Alexandria (3. century). Paradise is at the same time Arcadia; Eurydice is the allegory of human nature; the snake that sets off the Fall of Man is the same that kills Eurydice with its bite; and Christ's Descent into Hell parallels Orpheus’ descent into the under­world.

1. Part: The Creation

The group of soloists as representative of Orpheus' voice prepares the six acts of creation in episodes, in which different scales are used. Their use is influenced by Indian Ragas. The world develops bit by bit in the orchestra (the chaos, light and darkness, land and water, the plants, the animals – among them the snake – and human nature as Eurydice, represented by the solo violin). The seventh day is the day of rest whose overtones contrast the lower shadow world, characterized by quarter tones.

2. Part: Paradise / Arcadia

Love-scene between Orpheus (the three soloists) and Eurydice (solo violin). Inserted are parts from the first movement of the 2. string quartet "Eurydice – Two Landscapes for String Quartet", with it some dances whose Arcadian serenity is darkly grounded by the snake-theme. The climax of this part is Eurydice’s death, resp. the Fall of Man.

3. Part: Passion / Orpheus' Lament

The divine Orpheus as human sufferer with the crucifixion as climax.

4. Part: Descent into Hell / Descent into the Underworld

Orpheus' voice approaches the language of the shadow world. The nadir as point of death is a ritual scene which allows for the suggested new rise. Here, parts of the second movement of the string quartet ("Hades") are inserted. In the end the two spheres – the Salvation in the Christian tradition, and Eurydice’s repeated loss in antiquity – grow stronger into conceptually unsolvable soundscapes.