The reprehensible conduct of the gods of Olympus in the opera was widely seen as a veiled satire of the court and government of Napoleon III, Emperor of the French.
The 1874 revival broke records at the Gaîté's box-office.
The work was frequently staged in France and internationally during the composer's lifetime and throughout the 20th century.
It is his most often performed opera and continues to be revived in the 21st century.
In the last decade of the 19th century the Paris cabarets the Moulin Rouge and Folies Bergère adopted the music of the "Galop infernal" from the culminating scene of the opera to accompany the can-can, and ever since then the tune has been popularly associated with the dance.
Orphée aux enfers was Offenbach's first full-length opera.
The original 1858 production became a box-office success, and ran well into the following year, rescuing Offenbach and his Bouffes company from financial difficulty.
When Orphée mistakes Eurydice for her, everything comes out, and Eurydice insists they abandon the marriage.
Orphée, fearing Public Opinion's reaction, torments his wife into keeping the scandal quiet using violin music, which she hates ("Ah, c'est ainsi").
Albert Lasalle, in his history of the Bouffes-Parisiens (1860), wrote that the piece closed in June 1859 – although it was still performing strongly at the box-office – "because the actors, who could not tire the public, were themselves exhausted".
In 1874 Offenbach substantially expanded the piece, doubling the length of the score and turning the intimate opéra bouffon of 1858 into a four-act opéra féerie extravaganza, with substantial ballet sequences.