SACCHINI: Oedipe ‡ Colone

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

First Performance: 4 January 1786, Versailles

Principal Characters:

Antigone Soprano
Polynice Tenor
ThÈsÈe Tenor
Oedipe Baritone
Eriphile Soprano
Le grand prÍtre, the High Priest Bass-Baritone
Une athÈnienne, 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.

image_description=Oedipe et Antigone by Johann Peter Krafft (1809)
first_audio_name=Antonio Sacchini: Oedipe ‡ Colone
product_title=Antonio Sacchini: Oedipe ‡ Colone
product_by=Marcel Vanaud ó Oedipe
ValÈrie Millot ó Antigone
Jean-Luc Viala ó Polynice
Mireille Delunsch ó Eriphile
Daniel Galvez-Vallejo ó Thésée
Valérie Lecoq ó Une athénienne
Laurent Naouri ó 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