The Underworld Through Folk


Singer/Songwriter Anaïs Mitchell’s Hadestown, a folk opera set in a post-Apocalyptic Depression-Era, illuminates the Greek myth of Eurydice and Orpheus through the twangs and harmonies of folk music. If that seems like a disjointed mix of influences, listen to Hadestown and you’re likely to be convinced that Mitchell’s ambitious project holds all of its thematic strains together with plenty of gorgeous songwriting and bluesy angst.

Though it’s been staged and performed live since 2006, Righteous Babe Records (Ani DiFranco’s label) just released a CD recording, which features Mitchell’s angelic voice as well as that of Ani DiFranco, the haunting melodies of Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), and the deep, dusty vocals of Greg Brown.

NPR just featured an interview of Mitchell on Weekend Edition along with two songs from Hadestown. To read more about the history of folk opera and Anaïs Mitchell’s music, check out “The Waitress on the Ukulele: A Short History of the Folk Opera“, a Rumpus Original published in January.

Maddie Oatman has interviewed musicians and writers for The Rumpus. She's the research editor at Mother Jones, where she also writes. A Boulder transplant, she can often be found on her bike, skis, or cooking with vegetables, and she wrote her English thesis on a gay red-winged monster and Billy the Kid. Follow her on Twitter or read occasional musings on her blog Oats. More from this author →