Lessons With Hypatia is a musical tragedy that seeks to unveil the congruities between eroticism, philosophy, religion, culture, and love. In fifth century Alexandria, Egypt, the woman HYPATIA, among the last philosophers of Late Antiquity, was schooled as a man by her father THEON, chief librarian of the great library at Alexandria. Hypatia's philosophical dialogues and discussions about love with her confidants propel the drama: A shared love of ideas prompts Hypatia to wed ISIDORE, the philosophical leader of Alexandria, in hope of resolving the brewing turmoil between CYRIL, Alexandria's religious authority (and in love with Hypatia), and ORESTES, the new Roman consul (who also falls in love with Hypatia). But Isidore's extramarital sensual exploits grow reckless, and Orestes and Cyril seek to capitalize on Isidore's rashness to grab power. Hypatia reasons that producing a child might protect Isidore, and ruminates about consummating her longstanding love with Cyril. But when she attempts to offer herself to him, unanticipated emotions terrify her. Orestes begs Hypatia for love, and after her initial repulsion she considers giving herself to him. But when Hypatia finds Orestes with another love, she yields to her passion with Cyril. Orestes becomes enraged and threatens to rile up the Alexandrian people to burn Theon's library. And Hypatia and her students determine a risky method to preserve classical knowledge should the library be destroyed. Hypatia resists Orestes, and he lovingly recants his threats, but not in time to prevent disaster. Eroticism and philosophy mingle through the songs, dialogue, and action to blend together multiple levels of interpretation: What is the nature of love and divinity? What it is to communicate and to share one's self? What is culture, and how might it be preserved? And, how does each individual assign meaning to the emotional events in his or her life?
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