Acis & Galatea: A Gender Liberation Opera
In its original form, Acis & Galatea is an 18th century pastoral opera, which depicts the myth of the shepherd, Acis, who falls in love with the nymph and demi-godess, Galatea. Despite their unconventional affair, they carry out their love in the privacy of the woods with other nymphs and shepherds. But they are soon discovered by another demi-god, Polyphemus, who also loves Galatea and believes she should be with him instead. After being rejected by Galatea, Polyphemus attacks and kills Acis. To immortalize their love, Galatea uses her divine powers to turn Acis into a stream that will flow forever.
Set in the 19th, both Acis and Galatea are portrayed by and depicted as women. The two are part of a secret community who often retreat to a ‘safe-space’ in the woods where they are free to express themselves in terms of gender and sexual orientation. But soon, the community is disrupted by Polyphemus, Galatea’s husband, who has followed her. He has discovered her secret and demands that Galatea reject this community and her affair with Acis. Galatea stands up to Polyphemus and tells him that she is in love and to prove it, Galatea and Acis exchange vows of love and commitment. In a fit of rage, he attacks Acis violently who dies in Galatea’s arms. Instead of furthering the violence, the community gathers around Acis & Galatea, protecting them from Polyphemus and banishing him from their space. Galatea and the community mourn the loss of Acis, but they recognise that her life and her story must not be in vain. Together, they erect a monument of Acis, transforming her life and her love into a symbol of hope for a future where love and understanding will transcend fear and diversity.
This project is co-production with BC Living Arts and is generously supported by The Vancouver Foundation, Early Music Vancouver, BC Arts Council.