Cupid and Psyche - Ballet Story Adaption

ACT 1

1. Royal Dances

The ballet opens with everyone in the court of the King and Queen dancing and having a good time. This includes Psyche and her two elder sister’s and their husband’s. Many admirers of Psyche come to pay her homage because of her legendary beauty, but no-one will marry her for fear of upsetting the powerful goddess Venus whose temples have become neglected because of her.

2. Servant’s Dance

The frivolity continues with the palace servant’s and courtiers. There is much merriment and joyfulness.

3. The Wrath of Venus - Duet with Venus and Cupid

Venus is angry and jealous of Psyche because nobody worships Her anymore. She instructs her son Cupid to use his special powers to make Psyche fall in love with a monster and sends him on his way…

4. Cupid and Psyche - Pas de deux

Psyche is dancing on her own in the palace courtyard when Cupid, with his mask on to hide his identity, spies Psyche and is transfixed by her. After a while they are somehow drawn to each other, even though Psyche does not know Cupid’s identity. In a slow and sensual way Cupid has fallen for Psyche.

5. Interlude

6. Apollo’s Dance - Ensemble with Apollo, the King, Psyche and her two sisters.

The King prepares to consult Apollo for advice on finding a husband for Psyche as he fears he has offended the Gods somehow. He shows Apollo the rings on his two oldest daughter’s fingers and then Psyche’s bare hand. Apollo tells the King however, “The virgin is destined for the bride of no mortal lover…Her future husband awaits her on the top of the mountain…He is a monster whom neither gods nor men can resist”.

7. Elegy and Procession - Ensemble

The King is distraught but knows he must do what the gods decree. He tries to comfort Psyche but she remains resolute and strong. Everyone gathers amid the lamentations and they escort Psyche up the mountainside in a slow procession.

8. Psyche and Zephyr - Pas de deux

Psyche is alone on the mountain…She is sad but determined to survive this ordeal. Suddenly Zephyr, the God of the gentle west wind appears. He picks up Psyche in his arms and they float off…They arrive at the grounds of a mystery palace where Zephyr lays Psyche down on the grass and where she is now safe.

 

ACT 2

9. Palace Fantasy - Pas de deux

Psyche finds herself in an sumptuous palace. She dances in wonderment and amazement and feels somehow content. Cupid appears with his mask on and like in a dream they start dancing together. Cupid insists that Psyche make no attempt to see under his mask though…‘All I ask of you is to love me’ he says as they fall into bed together.

10. Jealous Sisters - Trio

Psyche awakens to find her mystery lover gone. She dances happily on her own until there is a knock at the door. Her two prying sisters have come to visit and as they jealously marvel at the riches and splendor of the palace they wonder ‘Who is this secret lover’? They hatch a plan for Psyche to uncover Cupid’s mask while he is sleeping and gleefully dance off into the night.

11. Grand Valse - Pas de deux

It is evening again and Psyche and Cupid dance a grand waltz together, falling eventually into bed once more.

12. Hot Oil

Cupid and Psyche are sleeping when the clock strikes 3am. Psyche gets out of bed quietly and goes to get an oil lamp. She makes her way over to where Cupid is sleeping and leans over to uncover his mask. Accidentally she spills hot oil on Cupid’s shoulder and he awakens abruptly jumping up! He is angry at Psyche for breaking her promise not to know his identity…Psyche is shocked that it is Cupid but it is too late as Cupid angrily banishes Psyche from his palace and flies off!

12a. Interlude

13. Temple Of Venus - Venus with Psyche and ensemble

Venus is in her lair when Psyche finally tracks her down. Psyche wants to see Cupid and explain her actions but she knows she must first get past Venus. Venus is not in a very friendly mood and along with her entourage dances around Psyche with an increasing frenzy. Venus assigns four impossible tasks to Psyche in order for her to prove her love for Cupid. She points to a great hill of mixed grains that Psyche must separate into neat piles and storms off!

14. Task 1 - The Army Of Ants - Ensemble

An army of ants (sent by Cupid) help Psyche complete the first task. Venus returns and is displeased. Next, Psyche must gather some golden wool from some aggressive golden sheep.

15. Task 2 - The Golden Sheep - Ensemble

Here she gets help from the river god and a reed tells her to simply collect it from the prickly bushes by the riverbank. Venus is again displeased when presented with the golden wool and sets a third task…

16. Task 3 - The Eagle - Duet

This time an eagle helps Psyche collect the water and once again Venus is not impressed. She sets her final task…Psyche is to journey to the underworld and bring back a box of ‘beauty’ from Prosperine, ‘Queen of the Underworld’.

 

ACT 3

17. Journey To The Underworld - Solo, Duet, Trio,

Psyche journeys to the underworld, determined to complete this final task and be reunited with Cupid. She meets Prosperine and gets her box of ‘beauty’ and returns safely.

18. Cupid Rescues Psyche (Cupid and Psyche are reunited) - Love Dance - Pas de deux

Psyche is making her way back to Venus with the box but is very inquisitive about the contents…Maybe some of the ‘beauty’ will help her get Cupid back? She slowly opens the box and passes out from a foul smelling gas! Suddenly Cupid appears, he pricks her with one of his golden arrows and she awakens. Psyche is overjoyed that it is Cupid and they embrace, finally together again.

19. Jupiter and Cupid - Duet, Trio, Ensemble

Cupid presents himself to Jupiter and pleads his case to marry Psyche. Jupiter agrees and persuades Venus to accept Psyche

20. Gathering of the Gods - Ensemble

The Gods gather and Mercury enters with Psyche. Jupiter gives Psyche a cup of ambrosia and she becomes immortal. Cupid and Psyche join hands – Their marriage is complete.

21. Celebration of the Gods - Ensemble

The party begins!

22. Royal Dances Reprise - Ensemble and bows

 

THE END

 

Back to CUPID page

 

Story adapted by Andrew Grainger from ‘The Story of Cupid and Psyche’ from the book ‘The Golden Ass’ or ‘Metamorphoses’ by Apuleius

 

 

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ANDREW GRAINGER

Composer and Pianist