Persephone is conceived as a masque, designed to marry spectacular
outdoor pyrotechnics and spectacle, with an epic story and jazz inspired score.
Scenes of pastoral innocence contrast with the poisoned dankness of the underworld,
as a familial dispute threatens enviromental destruction.
With its themes of abduction, betrayal, divided loyalties and hard political bargaining,
the myth of Persephone is as potent today as it has ever been.
Persephone, the beautiful daughter of Zeus, fatally inspires the desire of her uncle, Hades, who erupts from the Underworld to abduct her in broad daylight from the flower-filled plains of Enna. Her mother, Demeter, goddess of the harvest, is so distressed, she withdraws her blessing from the earth so that it ceases to be fertile. Faced with the revolt of all humanity, Zeus reluctantly sends Hermes to deliver Persephone from Hades. She can be freed – provided she has eaten nothing during her sojourn among the shades. Unhappily she has accepted a simple dish of pomegranate seeds. This binds her to the netherworld forever, but a compromise is reached whereby she divides her time between Hades and Demeter – thereby initiating the seasonal swing from winter to summer.
Masque’s were a form of festive entertainment which originally flourished in 16th
and early 17th century Europe, involving music and dancing, singing and acting,
within an elaborate design, to present an allegory flattering to the patron.
Our masque Persephone was originally inspired by our patron Peter Goide,
for performance at his lakeside estate in France.
Originally presented as part of the Arcola's inaugural Grimeborn opera festival, Persephone is still in its early stages of development.
Songs from the entertainment were performed in
Poet Simon Rae and composer Sue Casson have collaborated on a series of projects since the early 1990s.
Find out more about them and their work by clicking here.