April 15, 1972 | Indiana University Opera and Ballet Theater
Composer:John Eaton
Librettist:Michael Fried
After his victory over King Eurytus, Heracles is acclaimed as savior by the people of Oechalia. His lieutenant and false friend Lichas leads the chorus of praise. Only Iole, daughter of the dead king, remains silent for a while, then denounces Heracles and is carried away by attendants. Heracles enters the temple of his father Zeus to pray for heroic sons now that his labors are done, being dissatisfied with his timid son Hyllus by his wif Deianira. When the oracle prophesies that a virgin born of an enemy shall bear heroic sons to a son of Zeus, Heracles interprets this to mean Iole. Lichas, eavesdropping, taunts Heracles with superstition, and makes his own plans, which include Iole's seduction. He is successful in arranging a rendezvous with the maid and, when Heracles discovers them, is saved by a bolt of lightning striking the hero's feet. Heracles sends Lichas to Deianira in Trachis with news of his vitory. Meanwhile, a second oracle, believed by Deianira, states that Heracles will return to Trachis in tranquility or die. Deianira has a charm which should prevent Heracles from loving another: some drops of the blood of the centaur Nessus whom Heracles has killed. She impregnates a robe with this blood and entrusts it to Lichas, who believes that he can win either by the efficacy of the charm or its potentiality as a death trap, for still another oracle has said that no living being can kill Heracles. Deianira discovers that a portion of the robe she has daubed with blood has burst into flame and sends Hyllus to warn Lickas, then goes to take her own life. But it is too late: the robe burns Heracles at the moment of his triumph. When Hyllus exposes Lichas and Iole, Lichas seeks escape on the altar of Zeus but is struck dead by a bolt of lightning. Learning of the death of his wife, and confronted bravely by his son, Heracles now realizes the truth of all three oracular pronouncements: he will die now that his labors are done, but from no living hand; the third prophecy will be fulfilled if Hyllus marries Iole. He praises Zeus's wisdom and mounts a funeral pyre.

Taken from Opera Production II: A Handbook by Quaintance Eaton

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