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Jacques Offenbach aimed to offend imperial France with his parody of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, and he succeeded. The 1858 premiere of his comic opera prompted theater critics to denounce it—accurately—as vulgar and grotesque, although Napoleon III reportedly enjoyed it. In Offenbach’s telling, Orpheus is Al Bundy and Eurydice is Peg. Scheming to cheat on each other, they fear only one thing—and it’s not divine authority, as the gods are as depraved as the mortals they lord over—the dreaded Public Opinion, an actual character. Musically, the opera is best known for the second act’s high-kicking can can, which became a Loony Tunes staple. Atlas directors Rick Davis and Joel Lazar will put their spin on the opera with the moral shared by the hordes of heavy metal: Heaven is boring, and hell’s a blast.
ORPHEUS AND EURYDICE BEGINS AT 8 P.M. AND RUNS TO JANUARY 25. AT THE LANG THEATER OF THE ATLAS PERFORMING ARTS CENTER, 1333 H ST. NE. $20–$39. (202) 204-7760.