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Music Text

Libretto by Richard Toop after Ovid's Metamorphoses; German version by David Greiner (E,G)


1(=picc).0.1(=bcl).0- hat/xyl/marimba/SD/
vib or glsp/3cowbells/crot/BD/tpl.bl/wind chimes/chinese bl/claves-

Abbreviations (PDF)



This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.


World Premiere
Bangarra Dance Studio, Sydney, NSW
Aku Kadoga, director
Conductor: Mark Summerbell
Company: Music Theater Sydney


IPHIS Mezzo-Soprano
IANTHE Soprano
1st GOD Tenor
2nd GOD Baritone
Time and Place

Early Greek civilization, Greece


Lidgus, a father, and Telethusa, a mother, are expecting a child. Desperately wanting a boy, Lidgus threatens to do away with the child if it is a girl, as "boys make money and girls cost and cost". Telethusa, in desperation to protect her unborn girl, calls for the Gods to intervene. The Gods can only give Telethusa an inspiration: "Be sure he thinks you’ve had a boy/ He’s blind, he’s dumb, he’ll scream for joy!" By the time Iphis, who was born under a veil of secrecy, is sixteen, Lidgus is convinced that he has an intelligent, if slightly odd, son. When Lidgus arranges a marriage between Iphis and a girl, Ianthe, the couple actually falls in love. When Iphis calls on the Gods for help, the Gods suggest to Iphis that she goes through with the marriage and should hope for the best. When the drunk and rowdy guests at the wedding reception suggest the couple strip and fulfil their promise in a traditional ceremony, however, the couple again calls on the Gods for help. At a loss, the Gods throw up their hands at the whole mess; multiple sexual transformations occur, and pandemonium ensues.

Press Quotes

“Elena Kats-Chernin’s opera is about the girl Iphis, who secretly has to grow up a boy because her father only wants to have sons. Years later, when the father presents the charming Ianthe as the bride for his supposed son, they all become trapped with no escape route… Because the youngsters love each other the message is – they want to choose their own way forwards… This jumbling of emotions is staged in a touching and amusing way.”
Hannoversche Allgemeine

“Would you like to be a boy or girl? Or something completely different? The question is very ‘today’ but was already tackled two decades ago in this opera – both compact and concise… Musically, the 70-minute score is highly attractive and employs a practical orchestra oscillating between moderate modernity, dance rhythms, ragtime and klezmer…”
Die Presse


Comic, Romantic



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