Opera Scotland

Oedipe Oedipus

Music
George Enescu (born Liveni, Romania, 19 August 1881; died Paris, 4 May 1955)

Text
Edmond Fleg.

Source
Classical Greek dramas Oedipus Tyrannus and Oedipus Coloneus by Sophocles (496-406 BC).

Premieres
First performance: Paris (Opéra), 13 March 1936.
First UK performance: Edinburgh (Usher Hall), 18 August 2002 (concert).

First UK performance (staged): London (Covent Garden), 23 May 2016.
First performance in Scotland: As above.
Scottish Opera premiere: N/A.

Background
Enescu had a hugely successful career as violinist and conductor, and also taught a number of students, notably Yehudi Menuhin, so his composition was only done in his spare time. Oedipe is his only opera, and composition was spread over an extended period. It requires a very large orchestra and tells the entire life of Oedipus with scenes relating to his birth and death framing the events in the two Sophocles plays.

Main Characters
Laïos, King of Thebes (bass)
Jocasta, his queen (mezzo-soprano)
Tirésias, a blind prophet (baritone)
Créon, Jocasta’s brother (baritone)
Oedipe (bass)
Sphinx (mezzo-soprano)
Antigone, daughter to Oedipus (soprano)

Plot Summary
The story begins with the birth of Oedipus, son of Laius and Jocasta. Celebrations led by the High Priest are interrupted by the prophecy of Tiresias that the child will grow up to kill his father and marry his mother. Laius orders a shepherd to expose the baby in the mountains so that it dies. But it is found and brought up in Corinth as the child of Polybus and Merope. As a grown man, he consults the oracle at Delphi, who predicts that he will kill his father and marry his mother, so Oedipus sets out on his travels in an attempt to avoid this. He meets Laius at a crossroads where he kills him, before completing his journey to Thebes. Here he solves the riddle set by the Sphinx, a monster who terrorises the people of Thebes. The Sphinx dies, and he is rewarded with marriage to the widowed Jocasta. As years pass, Oedipus seems happy, but at last Thebes is struck by plague, and Creon consults the oracle to find the reason. The true facts are revealed by Tiresias, but not believed by Oedipus until Jocasta reveals how Laius was murdered. Jocasta commits suicide and Oedipus blinds himself. Creon expels him from the city, to take the plague with him. He continues to live in exile accompanied by his daughter, Antigone. As they reach Athens there is a final encounter with Creon, but Oedipus, aware that he was all along driven by fate, is at peace and ready to die.

The Cast

Antigone
 daughter of Oedipe
Créon
 brother of Jocaste
Jocaste
 wife of Laïos
Laïos
 King of Thebes
Mérope
 
Oedipe
 
Phorbas
 
Priest
 
Shepherd
 
Sphinx
 
Tirésias
 a blind prophet

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