Inanna The Opera




The show opens in the city of Ur, the city of Inanna's father. Even as a young goddess, she is quite sure of herself and the status she desires. Accompanied by priestesses, she sings of her glory and subsequent duties. A dance in the temple follows, in which Inanna is joined by the young god, Dumuzi, her lover.


Inanna and Dumuzi sing of their love for each other; a love that completes the whole. Inanna sings that she would leave her home for Dumuzi, and he asks for her hand in marriage. Dumuzi then takes Inanna to his home in the Sudan plateau, just across from the lands of Egypt.


Although in love, Inanna and Dumuzi come from opposing families and Inanna is worried that she will not be accepted. Dumuzi tries to reassure her and presents a necklace to Inanna made of lapis lazuli, her favorite stone. Inanna then expresses concern over where she will eat and sleep, when Ea, father of Dumuzi, enters. He leads Inanna to a splendid bedchamber containing a golden bed created especially for her. Inanna expresses her gratitude and, once again, her concern. The song ends with Ea and Dumuzi's reassurance and expression of their loyalty.


Alone, Dumuzi sings of a dream that he had the night before. It is a dream fraught with dark symbology, and Dumuzi is filled with apprehension that this dream foretells his death.


Inanna and Dumuzi are spending the morning alone together, and Inanna sings of a dream that she had the night before. She dreamed that she was queen of Egypt, and feels that the dream is prophetic. Inanna then suggests that she and Dumuzi take the land of Egypt (which belongs to Dumuzi's brother) while he protests the act. The song climaxes with Dumuzi telling Inanna that she does not love him for the person that he truly is; Dumuzi then shouts at her to leave.


Inanna goes to her chambers and summons her vizier, Ninshubur. Upon his arrival, Inanna explains that she is leaving for the Lower World, and that he should begin to search for her if she doesn't return within three days. Ninshubur sings of the dangers involved, while Inanna clothes herself with the garments of her travels. Inanna explains that her motives are pure and exits, reminding Ninshubur to search for her after three days have passed.


In the Lower World, Queen Ereshkigal, Inanna's sister, is told of Inanna's arrival. She fears that Inanna's visit will be hostile, and cannot understand why a goddess of love and the living would have such a hatred for the poor queen of the dead. Her fears grow due to her own insecurities, until, in a frenzy, she swears to murder Inanna and destroy Dumuzi's love for her sister. Ereshkigal tells her gatekeeper to treat Inanna accordingly.


Inanna arrives, and is greeted by the gatekeeper who takes her through the seven gates which lead to the realms of the Lower World. At each gate, a garment is removed from Inanna. As Inanna passes through the seventh gate, she stands naked before Ereshkigal, and expresses that she has still retained her dignity.


Ereshkigal, accompanied by the voice of her twisted mind, leads Inanna through the corridors of the underworld until they reach the room of Inanna's torture. She is put through unspeakable terrors until her corpse is hung from a gibbet.


In a pasture at dusk, Dumuzi walks alone. He sings of his desire to find Inanna, and to make things better between the two of them. At the end of the song, two guards appear and take Dumuzi away.


At Dumuzi's house, the servants gather and discuss the mysterious circumstances of his death. Two different stories circulate about Dumuzi's death, and are finally interrupted by Isimud, Ea's vizier, who sings that the circumstances are irrelevant. What is important, Isimud sings, is that Dumuzi returns from the Lower World every summer.



Alone but alive, Inanna tends a wild-growing tree by the banks of the Euphrates River. She feels that she has been tricked out of her life with Dumuzi, and fears that if she does not at least have a home (temple) of her own that she will die of a broken heart. Anu, supreme god of the Sumerians, hears her cries of despair and comes down from the heavens. Anu then grants Inanna a home (temple) in the city of Uruk.


After spending some time in Eanna, her new home in Uruk, Inanna realizes that the city has limitations - that it is without the conveniences of modern technology. Ninshubur, Inanna's vizier, explains that the information and laws necessary to advance a civilization are in the possession of Dumuzi's father, Ea, god of the waters. Inanna sends a message to Ea, announcing her arrival.

At the home of Ea, in the land of the Abzu, the god receives Inanna's message. He expresses his amorous intentions and desires toward Inanna and instructs his vizier, Isimud, to give Inanna the finest treatment upon her arrival. Isimud warns his master to be careful, when he is interrupted by Inanna's entrance.


Isimud leaves Ea and Inanna alone; Ea invites her in. Ea asks Inanna to feast and drink - and drink. As they ply each other with wine, Inanna asks to see the "rules of civilization," known as the Tablets of Destiny. Ea brings them out each in turn, and shows them to Inanna, his advances growing stronger with every one. Inanna invites the drunken and weary god to lie with her, and then asks if she might have the tablets as a present. Ea grants them to her for one kiss.


Hours later, a sobered Ea awakens to find both Inanna and the tablets missing. Enraged at his foolishness, Ea commands Isimud to go in search of Inanna and retrieve the Tablets of Destiny. At the same time, in the city of Uruk, Inanna is presenting the citizens with the laws of civilization. Isimud arrives in Uruk and makes his way through the crowd in order to have a word with Inanna, but his path is blocked by her vizier, Ninshubur. Ninshubur informs Isimud that if Inanna were to return the Tablets of Destiny, it would appear to the people of Uruk that Ea was a god that would go back on his word. Frustrated, Inanna shouts for Isimud to leave her city, and threatens war if he refuses to go.


Alone in her room, Inanna sings of how her wishes have been fulfilled, and yet her desires remain unquenched. Filled with bitterness and revenge, and a need for glory and recognition by the older gods, Inanna swears to take her long-desired land of Egypt - and to conquer every nation along the way.


A council of the gods is called to discuss how Inanna's rampage should be handled. Each, in turn, give suggestions as to her treatment. After heated deliberation, they all decide to destroy Inanna's temple, but Inanna escapes capture.


In the city of Nineveh, Inanna discusses her feelings with Ninshubur. She has hidden for seven hundred years, and grows weaker as her following wanes. Ninshubur explains that there is another cult that still worships Inanna, but they call her by another name (Astarte). The cult is in Phoenicia, in the city of Byblos. Inanna is afraid that she will be used and misunderstood, but Ninshubur is persistent, and Inanna finally gives in. Ninshubur suggests that Inanna make her appearance to the people of Byblos through a statue, before which they perform their devotions.


(Instrumental) This song portrays the caravan of Inanna, as it makes its way to the city of Byblos. This song is written so that it may be performed during a theatrical intermission.



(Instrumental) The priestesses at the temple of Astarte perform a ritual dance before an image of the goddess.


The high priestess begins to speak of a distant life, yet she speaks as if she were possessed by a spirit, for another voice speaks along with her. The group of priestesses turn their attention toward the statue of the goddess, and Astarte (Inanna) makes her appearance.


A great feast in the temple follows. As the priestesses sing their praises to Astarte (Inanna), she speaks to them of understanding, awareness, and love for all things. To Astarte's (Inanna's) dismay, the group is so lost in their own song that they hear little of what she has to say. As her own voice is drowned by the others' frenzy, Astarte (Inanna) spies a shining, handsome god across the room: the god the Phoenicians call Adonis.


Astarte (Inanna) is suddenly moved by feelings of love - feelings for which she had forgotten she had the capacity. As much as her passions drive her to entice Adonis, so does a feeling of familiarity. A coy conversation ensues, in which Astarte (Inanna) and Adonis give in to their attraction for one another.


Later, Astarte (Inanna) has a private conversation with her vizier, Ninshubur. She is concerned that mankind has misunderstood her message; that they have become selfish, driven only by greed and animal passions. Ninshubur attempts to point out the positive aspects of Astarte's (Inanna's) new status, but these do not assuage her fears of being harmed, and of losing love again.


Astarte (Inanna) and Adonis spend an evening under the starry skies of the temple gardens, sharing feelings and memories. Slowly, they begin to remember identical places, sights and sounds. With dawning awareness, Astarte (Inanna) realizes that she has found her lost love, Dumuzi. Memories rush back to Adonis (Dumuzi) as well, and their relationship is finally restored.


Elated by her discovery, Astarte (Inanna) rushes back into the temple, only to discover a scene of blasphemous debauchery - the rites of sacred prostitution have been reduced to a money-making scheme of lustful pleasure. Astarte (Inanna) confronts the high priestess of the temple, and the priestess admits that she is jealous of the love between Astarte (Inanna) and Adonis (Dumuzi). Astarte (Inanna) chastises the priestess for her heretical practices, and the priestess curses the goddess: she threatens to have Adonis (Dumuzi) murdered, "and the mountains shall run red with his blood."


(Instrumental) Adonis (Dumuzi) wanders alone through the forests of Mount Lebanon. He is attacked by a wild boar, gored and killed. The women of the temple gather around his crumpled body and begin to wail.


Alone, her heart and spirit broken, Astarte's (Inanna's) strength begins to wane. She sings a bitter song of humanity, yet at the same time she begs for mankind's love. Tired and disgusted by the new ways of man, she asks for her own death to come, rather than live off of the whims of her worshippers. Dawn comes, and Inanna realizes that she can never die as long as there are those that remember her - she is forced to exist.


Inanna (Astarte) sings of her beloved home (temple) Eanna, destroyed so long ago. She sings that she has found the truth of immortality, and because of that truth, her enemies can never truly harm her.


Inanna can never die, but because she exists due to the energies that people give her, she is growing weaker. A goddess of love cannot thrive in a world where so little love exists. Refusing to change her name and move again, Inanna is forced to find another method of survival. Inanna chooses to focus on an aspect of herself which she has always tried to repress - the aspect of war. Inanna has always been goddess of war, but until now she had sustained herself with the gentle energies of love. Times have changed, and from Phoenicia to Jerusalem, all the way to Egypt, Inanna sees nothing but bloodshed and warfare. The goddess Inanna vows to wage war on mankind for two thousand years, at which point she might be able to heal her broken heart and find her true love again....



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