Historical repertory commonly uses threats to a women's virtue, her person, or her death as a narrative device to produce the moral or emotional climax in opera. The fate of these female characters reinforces patriarchal notions of femininity and acceptable gender behaviour, or alternatively is intended to reveal the complexity of feeling experienced by male characters. This is problematic because historical opera forms the overwhelming majority of all operatic works staged by major opera houses. This article documents the way The Pomegranate Cycle (2010) confronts archaic representations of women in opera and models a new narrative trajectory of healing and growth for its central female character, Persephone. It examines key choices in the works story, structure and power-relations embedded in vocal timbres as a mean of commenting on problems in the operatic tradition and its historical development. In doing so, this article seeks to encourage the production of new operatic works, especially works where female characters exhibit autonomy, and where female singers have more choice and agency over the kinds of women they portray through their performing bodies.