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Tuesday
Feb062018

a wall divides

In Ovid's original telling, Pyramus and Thisbe live on "adjoining estates in the lofty city of Babylon...with its walls of brick.” “Their hearts belong to one another, and burn with an equal passion,” but both their fathers oppose any union. “The walls that divide the two estates have a tiny hole, a cranny formed long ago.” 

In Hasse's opera, Piramo (Pyramus) says “Behold, this secret passage is the work of my own hands. On that fatal day that our father’s hatred broke the bond that connected us, the idea [to make the passage] came to me." In the opera, Pyramus actively seeks change and manages to break through the dividing wall. 

The cause of the fathers’ hatred is unspecified but deep. Walls both physical and emotional that separate families create their own prison. In the opera, the ruling hatred of the fathers is referred to as tyranny. Pyramus and Thisbe want to break past the walls imposed by the tyrannical rulers, in this case their fathers, to a place of “sweet liberty.” There they will find “contentment in love.”