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Oedipe et Antigone by Johann Peter Krafft (1809)
06 Dec 2007

SACCHINI: Oedipe à Colone

Oedipe à Colone: Tragédie lyrique in three acts.

Antonio Sacchini: Oedipe à Colone

Marcel Vanaud — Oedipe
Valérie Millot — Antigone
Jean-Luc Viala — Polynice
Mireille Delunsch — Eriphile
Daniel Galvez-Vallejo — Thésée
Valérie Lecoq — Une athénienne
Laurent Naouri — Le grand prêtre
Soldats, prêtres, athéniennes, coriphée
Ensemble Orchestral de Paris
Ensemble Vocal Audite Nova de Paris
Jan Latham-Koenig, direction
Live performance: Festival de Montpellier, 17 July 1992, Cour Jacques Cœur

 

Music composed by Antonio Sacchini. Libretto by Nicolas-François Guillard after Sophocles.

First Performance: 4 January 1786, Versailles

Principal Characters:

Antigone Soprano
Polynice Tenor
Thésée Tenor
Oedipe Baritone
Eriphile Soprano
Le grand prêtre, the High Priest Bass-Baritone
Une athénienne, an Athenian woman Soprano

Setting: The grove of the Furies at Colonus

Synopsis of the play:

Blind, old Oedipus, a former king of Thebes, wanders for many years guided by his daughter, Antigone. Although once successful as a ruler, he was exiled after the gods sent sickness to the city because Oedipus had killed his father Laius, the prior king, and he commited incest with his mother, Iocasta, after he becoming king of Thebes. Now he and Antigone end their journey near the Greek city-state of Athens at a place called Colonus. There, Oedipus offends the Eumenides -- goddesses of the underworld -- and he must make offerings later to avoid punishment. His youngest daughter, Ismene, joins them at Colonus, bearing news from Thebes that her brothers are fighting over the kingship and that the younger Eteocles exiled his older brother Polyneices from the city.

Oedipus is stunned to hear this, but she also reveals the oracle's prediction that the each of the sons will soon seek Oedipus' support to win the battle for the throne. Disgusted, he refuses to help either of them because Theban citizens had treated him so poorly before. He asks for the help of Theseus, King of Athens, to protect him and his daughters, and the wise king agrees. Later, Creon, Iocasta's brother, finds Oedipus at Colonus and kidnaps his daughters to force Oedipus to return to Thebes, so that the younger Eteocles can win the war. Thankfully, Theseus comes to the rescue by retrieving the two girls and sending Creon back to Thebes empty-handed. Next, the exiled older son Polyneices comes seeking Oedipus' support, yet the old man is angered at his son's request and condemns both of his sons to death because they are so selfish.

After praising the Athenians for their kindness, thunder in the sky summons Oedipus into the wilderness to die. Accompanied by his children and King Theseus, he walks off toward death, declaring that Athens will forever be protected by the gods as long as Theseus does not reveal the location of his grave to anyone. Oedipus thus dies after a long life filled with suffering that is cured only by forgiveness and acknowledging the supremity of the gods. Because of his return to faith, he is absolved from the crimes he committed so many years before. After their father's death, Antigone and Ismene return to Thebes, hoping to prevent the deaths of their two brothers that Oedipus had predicted.

[Synopsis source: Book Rags]

Click here for the complete libretto.

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