Il ballo delle ingrate was published as part of Monteverdi's Eighth Book of Madrigals (Madrigali guerrieri, et amorosi) in 1638. This printed version probably contains revisions Monteverdi made for a revival in Vienna. The virtuosic bass writing for Plutone is closer in style to Monteverdi's late operas than to that of his L'Orfeo (1607). The musicologist Paolo Fabbri believes that the revisions were made for a performance to celebrate the coronation of Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor in 1636. The sudden death of the previous emperor meant Monteverdi had to produce music at short notice, so he reworked Il ballo delle ingrate, removing the references to the Mantuan wedding.
The stage shows the mouth of the Underworld. Venus and Cupid visit Pluto, King of the Underworld, and complain that the arrows from Cupid's bow are no longer effective on the ladies of Mantua, who are scorning their lovers. Cupid asks Pluto to bring the spirits of women who rejected love up from the Underworld to show what fate awaits them in the afterlife. Pluto agrees and the spirits of the "ungrateful ladies" enter and dance "two by two...with grave steps" as Pluto sings a warning to the women in the audience. As the ungrateful ladies return to the Underworld, one of them sings a lament regretting she must leave the "pure and serene air."