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The Beautiful Galatea

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The Beautiful Galatea

by O.P.Leonhard Kohl Von Kohlenegg

Genre: Operetta, Romance
Format of Original Source: Plot summary
Recommended Adaptation Length: 60 Minutes

Candidate for Adaptation? Not Likely


The first act opens with a graceful chorus of Grecians on their way to worship at the temple of Venus, at dawn (“Aurora is awaking in Heaven above”). Ganymede, Pygmalion’s servant, declines to go with them, preferring to sleep, and bids them good-by with a lullaby (“With Violets, with Roses, let the Temple be decked”). His master, Pygmalion, who has finished a statue of Galatea, his ideal, also goes to the temple, and Ganymede decides to take a nap. His slumbers are interrupted, however, by Midas, a professional art patron, who has heard of the statue and informs Ganymede that he is ready to buy it, but first wishes to see it. The servant declares it is impossible, as his master is in love with it. Midas makes a further appeal to him in a long descriptive arietta (“My Dear Father Gordias”) in which he boasts of his abilities, his patronage, and his conquests. He finally bribes Ganymede to show it to him, and as he stands gazing at it and praising its loveliness, Pygmalion, who has suddenly returned, enters and upbraids them. After a spirited trio, “Boiling Rage I feel within me,” Ganymede takes to his heels and Midas is driven out. When Pygmalion is alone with the statue, a sudden impulse moves him to destroy it because it has been polluted by Midas’s glances, but his hand is stayed as he hears the chorus of the returning worshippers, and he makes an impassioned appeal to Venus (“Venus, oh, see, I fly to thee”) to give life to the marble. Venus answers his prayer. The statue comes to life, and Galatea falls in love with Pygmalion, the first man she has seen, which gives an opportunity for a charming number, the Awakening Duet (“I feel so warm, so sweet”), and for a solo closing the act (“Lightly sways and gently sweeps”).


Implausible and old-fashioned, this story is, of course, about a statue coming to life.  This particular take on the tale doesn’t add much to the theme or metaphorical overtones.  There are richer takes on the Galatea storyline than this one.  (cf. the movie HER, for instance, PYGMALION, or PRETTY WOMAN, or….)

A word of caution: This plot summary was written by 19th-century literary critic George Upton, who often mixes personal opinion with summation. You would be advised to consult the original source material, if the general plot appeals to you.


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