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Phèdre (François-Benoît Hoffman)




Synopsis :

Act one
Hippolytus (Hippolyte) and his companions are setting off for the hunt; they address a prayer to Diana, then depart. Queen Phaedra (Phèdre) lovingly observes her stepson Hippolytus as he leaves. She presides over a sacrifice in honour of Venus, hoping to soothe her tormented heart (divertissement). But her prayers grow confused, and her visions betray her. She finally confesses her love for Hippolytus to her attendant Oenone and speaks of the danger to which it exposes her. But at this point they are informed that King Theseus (Thésée), who has gone down into the Underworld, will not return. The people invite Phaedra to ascend the throne; she begins to believe she may now love her stepson.

Act two
Phaedra has been crowned. She inquires after Hippolytus’ state of mind; the young man’s submissive attitude further inflames her passion. She declares her love, but is rejected. Coup de théâtre: Theseus, who had been thought dead, now comes back from the Underworld. Hippolytus rushes to his father’s arms, but promises himself not to reveal anything of what he has learned. A divertissement celebrates the king’s return. Theseus is astonished not to see the queen, and wishes to go to her apartments with Hippolytus. The latter declines to accompany him and even requests per-mission to leave the kingdom. Theseus, believing Phaedra has come to hate her stepson, laments the division that reigns in his family.

Act three
Oenone, fearing that Hippolytus has been indiscreet, accuses the prince of wishing to besmirch the queen’s honour. Theseus is outraged, and beseeches Neptune to punish his son. Hippolytus vainly attempts to jus-tify himself, but Theseus exiles him from the kingdom. Phaedra, stricken by remorse, rejects Oenone on learning what she has done for her sake, and resolves to live only long enough to vindicate Hippolytus’ innocence. Thunder rumbles; a messenger comes to announce that Hippolytus is dead, devoured by a monster come from the depths of the sea. Hearing the news, Phaedra declares her crime and kills herself at the feet of Theseus, who learns to his horror that his son was innocent.

    Persons - 2
  • HOFFMAN, François-Benoît (1760-1828)
  • LEMOYNE, Jean-Baptiste (1751-1796)
  • Work - 1
  • Phèdre (Hoffman / Lemoyne)