The opera was first performed on 13 May 1767 at the Great Hall, Salzburg University. The myth follows that Hyacinth died accidentally from being struck on the head by a discus thrown by Apollo. However, another myth tells that it was the wind god Zephyrus who was actually responsible for Hyacinth's death because Zephyrus, out of jealousy, blew the discus off course in order to injure and kill Hyacinth. When he died, Apollo made the hyacinth flower spring out from his spilled blood.
The librettist and priest, Rufinus Widl, modified Ovid's story (in which Apollo, Zephyrus, and Hyacinthus clearly constituted a homosexual love triangle) to make it conform to the ethic, by changing the sexually desired character from Ovid's Hyacinth to Melia, his sister.
King Oebalus of Lacedaemonia and his son, Hyacinthus are preparing a sacrifice to Apollo when their altar is struck by a bolt of lightning. Apollo himself arrives to offer his friendship to young Hyacinthus and love to his sister, Melia. Melia's euphoria over the prospect of marrying a deity is shattered, however, when Zephyrus runs in to report that Apollo had killed Hyacinthus with a discus. But just as Zephyrus is finishing his story, Apollo himself blows in and sends the liar off with a blast of the west wind. The distraught Melia doesn't know what to believe and shuns the god as she leaves to find her brother.
As it turns out, Hyacinthus manages to identify Zephyrus as his killer to his father as he expires. Oebalus and Melia sing a duet of grief that so touches Apollo that he turns the boy's body into the flower hyacinthus (with its signature marking), and reaffirms his love for Melia who praises the power of Numen.