Cosmic Cowboy Synopsis

ACT 1 A PAGEANT: THE ENUMA ELISH (The Sumerian Legend of Creation)

Scene 1 The Mixing of the Saltwater and the Freshwater (or the Big Bang)
The opera starts with the Sumerian epic poem of creation, the Enuma Elish, which fits poetically into the Big Bang theory. Tiamat, the saltwater ocean and her consort, Apsu, a river of freshwater have sex. They birth the universe in a huge explosion like the Big Bang.

Scene 2 Just after the Big Bang
Tiamat and Apsu rest in each other’s arms after giving birth to the universe. Their children drag Tiamat from Apsu’s arms. Qingu, their son, and Tiamat’s lover, enters with Little Tia, the daughter of their incestuous union. Tiamat makes love to Qingu, enraging Apsu. He plots with Vizier Mummu to kill the children and reclaim his place.  When Tiamat finds out, she casts Apsu away.

Tiamat teaches the children their creation story, about the primacy of Chaos to natural development and their destiny to bring the love to the universe. Marduk, another of Tiamat and Apsu’s sons, enters. He overhears Tiamat speaking about the power of love to change the world. He sneers and counters with “Power” – raw naked Power – that’s what he believes will change the world. The children cower before their brother, but Little Tia stands up and tells Marduk he’s wrong.

Scene 3 The Slaughter of Apsu
Apsu’s plan to kill his children is leaked.  Marduk preempts Apsu by killing him in his sleep. He seizes the Scepter of Winds which gives him control over the winds of the world, vowing to eliminate all Chaos and Tiamat’s teachings.

Scene 4 The Vengeance of Tiamat
Tiamat makes Qingu Commander of her forces. She gives him the Table of Destinies which controls the fate of all things and commands him to kill his father’s assassins.

Scene 5 The Great Battle
A great battle ensues. Marduk appoints himself Commander of the opposing forces. He captures his mother in his Net of Winds. Qingu tries to save her but is struck down.  As Tiamat dies, her tears form the rivers, her body the Milky Way. Marduk exterminates all her people, but one – Little Tia escapes through a wormhole. Marduk vows to hunt her down and eliminate her, the last trace of Tiamat, of Chaos. He determines to bring Order to the world.

INTERLUDE - In the Wormhole

As Marduk embarks on his quest for absolute power, the Choruses sing the Song of the Invisible- the song sung by those who are colonized.


The Chase spans millennia as Marduk pursues Tia through time and space, through the five extinctions, the beginning of human civilization, the rise and fall of empires, and into the future. Marduk’s armies march into Africa, Asia, the Americas, Australia, etc, colonizing and proselytizing as they conquer these lands.

They land on several colonies – Singapore, Uluru, Plymouth Rock. Marduk traps Tia on a Black Hole. He raises his sword.  As Tia gathers herself to spring away, Marduk’s momentum carries him forward and the powerful gravitational pull of the Black Hole pulls him in. Tia sees Comet 67P passing by, and springs on it, riding to freedom.


Scene 1 At Control Headquarters, Earth and Pioneer Station, Mars
Scientists at Control Headquarters, Earth, and Pioneer Station, Mars, are glued to their monitors. The spaceship, Mayflower, is hovering over Comet 67P. A probe is ejected and tumbles down. Its landing gear fails to deploy. It bounces around on the Comet and comes to rest under a cliff – a disaster – as it’s in shadow and cannot recharge its solar batteries. It begins transmitting, then goes dead.

Scene 2 On Comet 67P
Tia finds the probe. They begin a slow “getting to know you” dance. Each time Tia advances, the probe retreats. When she backs off, it reaches forward, until finally they touch. Tia give Cooper her full god-name: Tia, Ninhursag, Ki, Nimah, Nintu, Goddess of Earth, Goddess of Life. The probe tells her the scientists call him “Probe”, “that machine”, “the robot”, “the drill” but he has named himself Cooper – after Gary Cooper, the cowboy star of his favorite western, “High Noon.” Cooper asks Tia to move him into sunlight to recharge. Instead, Tia transforms into a shaft of energy and charges him. Cooper is excited to have this “data dump.” He shares Tia’s ineffable memories and sees the Enuma Elish.

Scene 3 At Control Headquarters, Earth and Pioneer Station, Mars
The scientist cannot believe what they’re seeing on their monitors as they watch Tia and Cooper dancing. They are awed when they realize that they’re seeing an extraterrestrial being.

Scene 4 Shortly After Watching Tia and Cooper Dance
Mr. Mu, President of Mu Mars Corp and the first to colonize Mars, determines to capture Tia. He wants to harness her energy to speed up the terraforming of Mars. He tells General Aps, the head of Earth’s space agency, and his co-conspirator, to send an astronaut to retrieve her. The General decides to send Commander Mard.

Scene 5 On Comet 67P
Cooper is probing, whirring and jiggering as he analyzes soil samples. Tia brings him small rocks to analyze. She tells Cooper she is charged with patrolling the Milky Way and keeping humankind safe. Cooper calls her the Cosmic Cowboy. Tia confides that she’s being pursued by Marduk who has a Net of Winds to capture her.

Scene 6 In Space Approaching Comet 67P
Commander Mard lands on the Comet. Cooper asks Tia to blast him with her godly powers. She tells him that she’s ready for him, for the final confrontation.

Scene 7 On Comet 67P, Control Headquarters and Pioneer Station
Tia tells Commander Mard that she knows he’s really Marduk in disguise. She asks why he has this vendetta against her. He says that it’s the “idea” of Tia that must die; the idea of Chaos, of freedom, of love. Order is the only way for humanity to survive – rules, rationality, technology – that’s the future. Power is the only god capable of enforcing order. He is humankind’s savior. He tells Tia to embrace her God, the one and only true God.  She embraces him.

Marduk springs the Net of Winds over Tia. She screams in agony. Cooper begins cutting the Net. Marduk boasts that his Net cannot be destroyed by magic or godly power. Cooper is undeterred. His probe is no magic probe; it has no godly power. It’s just a plain ole probe. It’s High Noon, it’s time for him to save the day. There is an almighty CRACK as the Net gives way.  The winds sweep out of Tia and she steps from the Net.  She raises her hands and the Comet splits in half.  She’s on its tail; Cooper and Marduk are on the other end.  She begins to move away.

Marduk screams that he’ll weave a deadlier Net of Winds. Tia holds up the Scepter of Winds. She stole it from him when she embraced him. Cooper begs her to take him with her. She tells Cooper he must stay, that he’s the Cosmic Cowboy now. It’s his job to patrol the universe and keep humankind safe. They dance on their respective halves of the comet. They stretch towards each other, but can no longer touch. Tia wheels the comet around and rides into the sun.