Director – Narelle Yeo
Psyche is based on the fairy tale by Dutch novelist and poet, Louis Couperus, and the concept emphasises the very essence of Overman and her penchant for the visual and pictorial when related to music. The opera was highly innovative in that it did not follow the usual opera format with major singing roles and a large chorus. The characters in the opera were not all singers. Some were dancers, two
were singers, two actors who only have speaking roles and some were instrumentalists ( ute and harp) who had no text but used an instrumental type and ‘leitmotifs’ to create the personality of the character. For example, the role of Psyche was performed by a dancer, the role of Eros – a tenor, The King (father of Psyche) had a speaking role and the role of Astra – sister of Psyche – was played by a harpist.
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.
All is well in the Kingdom of the Present. Psyche and Eros are in love and enjoy the bene ts 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 nd the owers 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 rstly 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.
Emeralda and Astra sit in the castle. When Psyche appears Emeralda rstly 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 send Psyche off to the underworld to search for the jewel of mystery.
Psyche wanders through the underworld and is rst 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.
17 August, 2019