Anais Mitchell

Hadestown: A Folk Opera

Here’s a high-concept project if ever there was one. Take the Orpheus myth and build a song sequence around it. Then call in some of the best alternative folk/country musicians you can round up—Greg Brown, Ani DiFranco, Ben Knox Miller of The Low Anthem, the Haden Triplets and more—and blend their talents into a folk opera, a hybrid created by Anais Mitchell. Brown sings his contributions in the role of Hades, King of the Underworld, and DiFranco sings the role of his wife, Persephone. If all of that sounds just entirely too artsy-fartsy for your taste, you’re bound to have company in others who will share that opinion. But this review is being published in Chico, after all, where artsy/fartsy always has an audience. Besides, the songs Mitchell has written for the score are solid. Even if you just listen to the CD and never actually see a production of Hadestown with its full 22-member cast, you still might find yourself humming some of the tunes. It’s a bit of a curiosity piece, this album, but interesting in its oddity.