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Sapho photo by Don Lassell

Washington Concert Opera

Saturday, November 9, 2019 - 1:00pm




Antony Walker


Kate Lindsey (Sapho), Addison Marlor (Phaon), Amina Edris (Glycère), Musa Ngqungwana (Pythéas), Brian Vu (Alcée)

The story takes place on the Greek Island of Lesbos in 6th century B.C., with the Greek Olympic Games as the backdrop. 


Phaon  confesses to his friend, Pythéas, that he loves two women: the poet Sapho, and his former lover, Glycère.  In a poetry competition, Sapho sings a song of love, and emerges victorious over her rival, Alcée.  Phaon is immediately enamored of Sapho, and declares his love for her alone.


A group of conspiratora plot to overthrow the dictator Pittacus.  The group chooses Phaon to carry out the murder.  His friend Pythéas reveals the murder plot to Glycère in exchange for her affections.  Glycère is jealous of the developing love between Phaon and Sapho, so she discloses the murder plot to authorities, then deceitfully promises Sapho that she will not reveal the conspiracy if Sapho convinces Phaon to leave Lesbos.  Sapho reluctantly agrees to the scheme, only to save Phaon’s life.  Phaon begs Sapho to flee with him, but she refuses.  Hurt and rejected, Phaon turns to his former lover, Glycère.


There’s an air of melancholy and sorrow as Phaon stands alone, wrestling with what has become his fate:  to leave Sapho and his beloved Greece.  He recalls the happy days of love with Sapho, then curses her and his fate.  Sapho overhears his curse and faints.  When she regains consciousness, she takes her lyre to accompany her in a final farewell, O ma lyre immortelle, before flinging herself off the cliff into the sea. 

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