The Harpies
Composer: Marc Blitzstein
Librettist: Marc Blitzstein
Other Artistic Personnel: Hugh Ross (Conductor)
Work Web Site:
Premiere Date: May 25, 1953
Description: This operatic spoof of Greek mythology - and of musical neo-classicism - is also intended as a Depression-era allegory. Set in ancient Thrace, the work has eight characters, balanced between tenor and soprano principals, a group of three female Harpies, and three male Argonauts. At the center is Phineus, a sightless oracle, who attempts to enjoy his dinner but is constantly attacked by the Harpies. Not only do they steal his food, they emit a foul odour as well. Jason appears on the scene with the Argonauts, and he promises to fight off the Harpies if Phineus will guarantee that the gods will continue to favor them. As soon as the Harpies are defeated Iris appears as a messenger of the gods. She promises Phineus that he will always be safe from the Harpies, and she dispatches them to experience various tortures. The prophet can now eat his meal in peace.
Character List (Major): PHINNEUS, a blind, old oracle (t)
AELLO, a Harpie (s)
OCYPETE, a Harpie (mz)
CELANEO, a Harpie (contralto)
ZETES, an Argonaut (t)
CALAIS, Argonaut (bar)
JASON, an Argonaut (b)
IRIS, a Messenger (s)
Reviews: New York Times, Stephen Holden, 9/26/1988; The Musical Quarterly, Vol. 73, No. 4 (1989), pp. 445-475, Carol J. Oja; American Music, Vol. 3, No. 4 (Winter, 1985), pp. 413-428, John D. Shout;
Length: 00:16
Total Acts: 1
Orchestration: 1 fl(=picc), 1 cl(=Ebcl), 1 bsn - 1 hrn, 1 tpt, 1 tbn, - pft - db
Contact: Boosey & Hawkes, Inc.
Address: 229 W 28th Street, Floor 11
New York, NY 10001
E-mail Address:
Phone: 212-358-5300
Composer Web Site:
Publisher Web Site:
To have your company’s photos included in the header rotation, send photos that are at least 1200px wide and 550px tall to Please note that submission of photos does not guarantee inclusion.
All OPERA America facilities are handicapped accessible. The National Opera Center features ground-level entry with elevators to the venue. All spaces are wheelchair accessible, and modular seating can be arranged to accommodate wheelchair users for all programs and performances. Handicapped accessible restrooms are available on all floors.
330 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001
Tel: 212.796.8620 • Fax: 212.796.8621

Privacy PolicyReturns Policy
2015 Form 990FY16 Audited Financial Statement
© Copyright 1995-2017 OPERA America Inc.

Technical issue with the website? Let us know.