Psyche - Opera

By Meta Overman

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Opera in three acts, c.105'00
Based on the novel of the same name by Louis Couperus.

The King of the Kingdom of the Past and his three daughters: Psyche, Emeralda and Astra
Prince Eros of the Kingdom of the Present
The Chimera
A Satyr
A Hermit

Act 1: In the Kingdom of the Past the King has three daughters. A prince (Eros) from the Kingdom of the Present arrives with the intention of finding taking a bride from one of the three daughters.

The king presents each daughter to Eros in turn. Emeralda, is only interested in Eros’ potentiality to procure for her a coveted jewel and if he is successful agrees to marry him. The second daughter Astra, speaks only with her harp and Eros is daunted by her talent.

The third daughter, Psyche, is the favourite of the King and very young but Eros falls in love and chooses to marry Psyche. A Chimera, who can see the future, appears and Psyche begs him to reveal what is beyond the horizon but he refuses to tell her. The King dies and Emeralda gleefully takes over the kingdom. Eros and Psyche marry and leave for the Kingdom of the Present.

Act 2: All is well in the Kingdom of the Present. Psyche and Eros are in love and enjoy the benefits of living in peace and harmony. However without Eros knowing it, there is a lascivious Satyr lurking who desires Psyche. Although she tries desperately to keep him at bay the Satyr eventually manages to seduce Psyche. Eros returns and is dismayed to find the flowers and birds colourless and dying and no one able to tell him where Psyche has gone. He eventually realises what Psyche has done and completely in despair, dies. A hermit comes on stage and tells how he has always resisted the temptation that beckoned. When Psyche appears in a panther skin without her wings the hermit firstly chastises her for being a sinner but then relents and tells Psyche how she can redeem herself. She must go back to the castle of the Kingdom of the Past, to Emeralda and beg for mercy.

Act 3: Emeralda and Astra sit in the castle. When Psyche appears Emeralda firstly assumes she must be a beggar bringing jewels to earn Emeralda’s favour. When she realises it is her sister Psyche she is overcome with rage. She sends Psyche off to the underworld to search for the jewel of mystery.

Psyche wanders through the underworld and is first frightened by bats, spiders and sea monsters. A voice calls out Idleness! Idleness! and Psyche suddenly receives the courage she needs to go on. She is led back to the Kingdom of the Past and arrives there with the knowledge that the jewel that Emeralda seeks does not, and never has, existed.

When Psyche brings this news to Emeralda she is so overcome with rage that she lashes out and strangles Psyche. The Chimera returns and brings back Psyche’s wings and binds them on again. He shows Psyche the light which will lead her to the Kingdom of the Future where the King and Eros await her arrival. All is forgiven and Psyche, the King and Eros are reunited.

Emeralda continues to live in bitterness and hate, continuously seeking that which does not exist.

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Orchestral: flute, oboe, bassoon, harp, piano, violin I, II, viola, cello, double bass
Vocal: tenor, baritone mezzo-soprano

Available in digital format only with PDF of full score, orchestral
and vocal parts.  The full length film can be view on YouTube:

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