Works > The Seventh Seed

The Seventh Seed

Written in:
Chamber opera in three acts for soprano, baritone, two mezzos, tenor, string quartet and percussion (one player).
Commisioned by

Commission funded by the Arts Council of Great Britain grant in 1990.


Premiered in concert version in June 1993 at the University of Mexico City by Lourdes Ambriz, soprano, John Oakley-Tucker, baritone, chorus: Eva Santana, Adriana Diaz, Raúl Hernández with Orquesta de Baja California, conducted by Eduardo Garcia Barrios.

Programme Note

Original libretto by Karen Whiteson based on Persephone’s myth. The action takes place in the present day, in a basement flat representing Pluto’s Underworld. We see a space covered totally with a bewildering variety of artefacts from all ages and cultures, dominated by a large Egyptian sarcophagus in the centre.

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Everything is coevered in dust. Pluto is studying his collection. Persephone suddenly appears, trying frantically to clean the room. She has no memory of how she came to be there. The chorus, at Pluto’s behest, tries unsuccessfully to get persephone to eat. The Archer causes Persephone to fall while cleaning a chandelier. She then recounts her fall from the world above. Pluto tells her that only in the tomb de we finally become what we were becoming in life, whilst looking at his sarcophagus. Persephone is unconvinced. PLuto tries to seduce her into becoming his queen and feeds her six out of the seven pomegranate seeds. Persephone refuses to accept death. The Archer hands her a letter from world above which tells her about Demeter, her mother, employed as nurse to a strange child. The Archer places a red crystal into the chandelier which then bathes the stage in red as Persephone finds the Seventh Seed and eats it. Persephone begins to wake up as the Archer leads her out of the Underworld.