for soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, and piano (chamber version forthcoming)
American Lyric Theatre
Premiered March 23, 2013; Philbrook Museum; Tulsa Opera; Kostis Protopapas, director
Hera, Queen of the gods, hysterically searches through Echo’s boudoir. She suspects Echo of having an affair with her husband, Zeus. Echo, heretofore unseen, interrupts Hera, just as Hera is about to discover an arrowhead from Cupid’s quiver. Distraught, Hera asks Echo to allay her woes with one of Echo’s magical poems. Hera leaves entranced.
Echo reveals her plot to entrap Zeus with the arrowhead—a magic weapon that when used, will cause the wounded to fall in love with the next person they see. Echo rejects her plot, deciding to use the arrowhead on a mortal instead to forget Zeus.
Narcissus writes poetry by a stream. Echo has found the mortal to receive her love blow. She appears to him, and showing Narcissus the arrowhead, tells him that she knows of a foolproof way to love. He rejects the idea. Echo stabs herself, falling instantly in love with Narcissus. As he rushes to her aid, she stabs him. He tumbles into the water, and seeing his reflection, loves himself.
In Hera’s throne room, Echo gives Hera the arrowhead. She tells Hera to use it on Zeus, and explains how her folly has only brought her grief. Hera, sympathizes with Echo. She decides to punish Echo leniently, sparing her life, but removing Echo’s ability to speak first—from henceforth, Echo is only able to repeat what has been spoken.
Narcissus sings to his reflection, Echo sings to Narcissus, and Hera sings of love’s misery.