Originally taken from Ovid’s Metamorphoses and transplanted by a group of rustic ‘Mechanicals’ into Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the story of Pyramus and Thisbe is a familiar one. Two lovers are unable to be together due to their feuding families. A crack in an interconnecting wall allows the two to communicate their love, and they arrange to meet each other near Ninny’s tomb. When Thisbe arrives, Pyramus is not there. She sees only a Lion with a bloody mouth, and assumes the worst. In her haste to leave she drops her veil. Pyramus arrives to find only a veil, and the bloodied Lion, and assumes her dead. He throws himself on his sword in sorrow, only for Thisbe to return and find his body. She also takes her life, and their blood stains the fruits of the mulberry bush.
In Lampe’s operatic adaptation, the Mechanicals are transplanted from Shakespeare’s play, to perform their scene as an opera, while a group of gentlemen remark on the absurdity of operatic convention. With some beautiful vocal writing to rival any of the great baroque opera composers, such as Hasse and Handel, and the opportunity to use all of the genius of Shakespeare’s comedy, Lampe’s opera Pyramus and Thisbe should definitely be performed more often.
Pyramus and Thisbe guide sections