The history books tell us that L’Orfeo was one of the earliest surviving operas, and the most frequently performed of its era. Yet Monteverdi and his librettist called it a “fable in music”, one which re-enacts the famous story of Orpheus who descends to the underworld in an attempt to bring his dead bride, Eurydice, back to life. His journey through Hades proves fruitless, as he cannot prevent himself from looking back at Eurydice as she follows him back to the living world and is then forced to return to the world of the dead. Orpheus suffers, grows, loses himself in the violence of grief, and finally comes to a new and deeper understanding of himself. In striving for the perennial and timely revival and rebirth of Greek tragedy, Monteverdi knew that he was in the vanguard of a new art form. He did not belong in the rarefied milieu of its inventors, the Florentine camerata; but in this, his first attempt at music drama, he surpassed their fumbling experiments by meshing words and music together in an act of sublime craftsmanship and hereby creating exceptional emotional power. L’Orfeo is a magical introduction to Monteverdi’s probing investigation of human nature, character and desire by means of music.