The drama of the mysterious Atalanta

An illustration by Sir Gerald Hargreaves shows a utopian scene on a cove of the mythical land of Atlantis. Many scholars think Plato invented the story of Atlantis as a way to present his philosophical theories.

Would that we could locate this wonder in the deep, and unravel her mysterious fate, examine her exquisite relics. 

Perhaps one day we find ourselves in a magnificent theater.  After too much anticipation and too many Lifesavers, the curtains go up and the last scene is revealed.  It is the interior of Poseidon’s temple.  The figures in the gilded interior are wearing colorful togas, robes, and tunics. 

Poseidon is lazing on his golden over-sized throne, and at least a hundred of his subjects are milling about carrying lances, swords, scepters, and archery equipment.  There is a beautiful circular fountain in the center of the temple with spewing dolphins supplying the azure water. 

The columns, arches, and domes are decorated with the most marvelous motifs and scenes.  There are images of mermaids, the Garden of Eden, chariot riders, royalty being carried in sedans, bulls with magnificent horns, and brilliant sunrises.

While we are taking in this scenery, a figure steps forward and bursts into song.  (yes!) We are witnessing an operetta.  As the story moves along, a skilled tenor steps forward and warbles his dramatic predicament.  The tenor is Achilles.  A soprano trills her mellifluous contributions.  She is Atalanta, a comely tomboy princess who has fallen for striking and muscular Achilles.

The drama of the opera centers on the two opposing factions in Atlantis at the time.  One side wishes war with Athens, and the other wishes for peace.  The Greek warrior, Achilles, has just come from attacking the walls of Troy, and he pleads with the citizens of Atlantis to remain peaceful. 

Those wishing for war rise up in all their melodious voices, and a concerned Achilles secrets Atalanta away with him in the nick of time—a big finale as Atlantis crumbles into the sea.

In the 1940s, this musical gem, Atalanta: A Story of Atlantis, was written in its entirety, in every aspect, by Sir Gerald Hargreaves, a British judge and self-taught composer.  He based it on Plato’s description of Atlantis, but he took some artistic liberties with embellishment.  Hargreaves made detailed paintings of the scenes of ancient Atlantis for his creation.  They are amazing, as are the arias and score composed by this amateur.

The mysteries of Atlantis:  would that we could locate this wonder in the deep, and unravel her mysterious fate, examine her exquisite relics. 

Alas, Atalanta: A Story of Atlantis, was never produced.

Sara Marie Hogg is the author of It Rises from the Pee Dee. Please click HERE to find the book on Amazon.

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