Both, the Arie im Elysium, and Orfeos zweiter Schmerzensgesang stem from Schau nicht zurück, Orfeo! (Don't Look Back, Orfeo!), an opera with dance after Christoph Willibald Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice. The mythological drama of Orpheus and Euridice is the story of the song writer Orpheus' grief over Euridice's sudden death. Lead by his sorrow Orpheus seeks Euridice's redemption from the realm of the dead. The gods grant him his wish, yet, only under the condition that he lead her out of the underworld without turning around to look at her. Overcome by their longing for each other, eventually Orpheus can not withstand his need to see Euridice. He looks at her, which immediately condemns her to eternal death.
The music of Schau nicht zurück, Orfeo! commences from Gluck's score but gradually distances itself from the early classical reform opera and creates its own path. At times the music returns to points in Gluck's opera, yet ever more elusively.
The the Arie im Elysium marks Orpheus' entry to the Elysian Fields where he hopes to be reunited with Euridice. He marvels at the brightness and spirit of this place of wisdom and beauty and is filled with the hopeful anticipation of Euridice's arrival. The music of the the Arie im Elysium is derived from a tiny triplet accompaniment figure from Gluck's aria at the same stage in the drama. The first notes of the vocal part are also from Gluck's opera and also the first words, the ones in Italian, are from Gluck's work.
Orfeos zweiter Schmerzensgesang is the expression of Orpheus' utter despair as Euridice is taken from him a second time. Again, the first words of this aria - Che farò senza Euridice – have found their way from Ranieri de' Calzabigi's libretto into that of Patricia Anne Simpson. The music of Orfeos zweiter Schmerzensgesang is limited to the use of the pitches of the C-Major scale. In this way it references the fact that Gluck chose the key of C-Major for his interpretation of this dramatic moment.
(Stefan Hakenberg, 2013)