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Olimpie (M. Dieulafoy & C. Brifaut)

Date

1826

Description

SYNOPSIS

ACT ONE

After the death of Alexander the Great, poisoned by a goblet of wine, the empire fell prey to two rival leaders, Cassander (son of the cupbearer) and Antigonus. The opera begins fifteen years later with their public reconciliation. In fact, Antigonus, who mixed the fatal potion, is trying to find out if Cassander has discovered his secret. Moreover, to compensate him for the loss of Olympias (Alexander’s daughter, who had been promised to him in marriage and who has since disappeared), he asks Cassander to grant him the most beautiful of his captives, Amenaïs. But she is the very woman that Cassander is about to marry: when she was still in her cradle, he saved her from the massacre that followed the death of Alexander, and she returns his love. To celebrate their nuptials in the temple of Diana, the Hierophant has summoned the venerable Arzane from her voluntary reclusion. But as soon as she hears the name of Cassander, the priestess breaks off the ceremony and bursts out in sacrilegious anger. Cassander, who knows her true identity, is in turmoil, while the triumphant Antigonus denounces ‘the assassin of [the] King’.

ACT TWO

In the temple of Diana, after an expiatory prayer, Arzane is commanded to explain herself. She reveals to the Hierophant that she is Statira, widow of Alexander and herself stabbed by Cassander, who she is convinced was behind the King’s death. Her sole remaining hope is to find Olympias, their only daughter. Amenaïs appears and, inexplicably moved, Statira asks her why she is attached to Cassander. The revelation of the circumstances in which she was saved, and her resemblance to Alexander, prompts the idea that she must be their daughter. Cassander enters and confirms the fact. He swears that he did not stab the Queen’s breast but withdrew the dagger from it, and that he did not know that the wine he poured was poisoned. Olympias pleads in his favour and her mother, moved despite herself, very nearly yields, but then suddenly checks herself and rejects him with increased violence. Antigonus comes to tell Statira that she will be restored to the throne with her daughter, whose protector he will become. Olympias protests, Cassander responds with threats, but Antigonus publicly condemns him to death for his crimes, setting his soldiers and the people against him.

ACT THREE

The Hierophant comes to lead Olympias to a safe refuge from the carnage with which the soldiers led by Cassander (who has broken free) threaten the temple. Left alone, the young woman is torn between her love and her loyalty to her mother. When Antigonus comes to claim her hand, she replies that she wishes to devote her life to the goddess. Statira is moved to compassion. Then Cassander appears in his turn. Finding Olympias alone, he struggles to remind her of the vows she swore to him. Cassander now prepares to confront his rival in single combat. Antigonus, mortally wounded, calls on the infernal powers to punish Cassander. But it is he who is struck down and, in a final outburst of rage, publicly confesses his crimes. Cassander, now proved innocent, can marry Olympias.

    Persons - 2
  • BRIFAUT, Charles (1781-1857)
  • DIEULAFOY, Michel (1762-1823)
  • Work - 1
  • Olympie (Dieulafoy & Brifaut / Spontini)