These paintings were inspired by the story of Orpheus and Euridyce in Ovid’s Metamorphoses and by Gluck’s opera Orfeo ed Euridice. Eurydice gets bitten by a snake and dies on her wedding day. Orpheus, inconsolable with grief, gains admittance to the underworld and his beautiful lyre music and singing of his grief persuades Hades to let him guide Eurydice back into the living. The condition is that she must follow behind him and he must not look back at her. When he sees the light, he looks back at her too soon as she is still standing in the underworld. She is immediately pulled back into the land of the dead forever. In the opera, Euridice pleads with Orfeo to look back at her and he is unable to resist. When she is returned to the underworld, he wishes to kill himself to be with her. Amore (Love/Cupid) stops him and as a reward for his undying love, returns Euridice back to life and reunites the lovers. Obviously I much prefer the happier ending in the opera version.
Che farò senza Euridice What will I do without Euridice Dove andrò senza il mio ben. Where will I go without my wonderul one. Euridice, o Dio, risponde Euridice, oh God, answer Io son pure il tuo fedele. I am entirely your loyal one. Euridice! Ah, non m´avvanza Euridice! Ah, it doesn´t give me più socorso, più speranza any help, any hope ne dal mondo, ne dal cel. neither this world, neither heaven. ~ Orfeo's aria in Gluck's opera "Orfeo ed Euridice"