Oedipe à Colone Libretto
English Translation

Overture
ACT I
SCENE 1


Recitative
Theseus
In vain your ungrateful brother has usurped your crown:
Prince, my people and I acknowledge your rights:
Nature and the law summon you to the throne,
The right of Polynice is the cause of kings.

Air
My daughter is the precious token
Of the close bonds I form today;
This tender marriage to which I solemnly pledge her
Will be a firm foundation for both our States.


Recitative
Polynice
Ah! The throne I aspire to is infinitely less tempting
Than the hand you so graciously offer me:
Inspired by her eyes, supported by your forces,
What enemy can stop me?

Air
Today Theseus, son of the gods and successor to Alcides,
Takes up arms in my behalf:
Feeble enemy, ungrateful and disloyal brother,
Eteocles, quake with fear!
Valor and beauty itself
Are united against you:
Yield to their supreme voice,
Tremble before your king.


SCENE 2
Recitative
Theseus
People of Colonus and citizens of Athens,
Share in the happiness this great day brings.
I have chosen this hero to be my son-in-law and friend;
I vow to return him to the throne of Thebes:
Soldiers, you brave companions in my noble tasks,
Swear you will defend him.

Chorus of soldiers
For him we will brave the bloodiest dangers;
Let him lead our valiant troops!
Thebes will open its gates to us,
Or we will die to the last man beneath its walls.

Recitative
A herald (to the troops)
You have heard Theseus’ orders;
Follow the hero his heart has elected:
Protectors of the State, defenders of kings,
Glory calls you and will come easily.


SCENE 3
Chorus of women
Go forth and reign, young princess;
May this great marriage bring happiness to your days!
Although new subjects now lay claim to your love,
May we remain dear to your heart.


Dance: Andantino (Allegro)
Air
An Athenian woman
You are leaving our beloved Athens,
And we sorrow to see you go;
How fortunate your new subjects!
Alas! How easily will you inspire their love:
Your fair empire rules over
The hearts of all mortals;
Every country in the world
Builds shrines to beauty.


Dance: Gavotte
Air
Eriphyle
I cannot leave you without shedding tears,
And my heart is at one with yours.
However strong love and its charms,
They cannot destroy friendship.


SCENE 4
Recitative
Theseus (to Polynice)
Let us go to the temple and offer up sacrifices;
May the daughters of Styx sanction our vows!
Mighty protectors of Athens and its kings,
Their names are the guarantors of our covenants.
Come.

Polynice (aside)
Oh gods!

Theseus
Your cause is just;
Their presence is another blessing for you.

Polynice
Their sacred name…this august temple…
Arouse remorse in my distraught mind.

Eriphyle (aside)
I tremble.

Theseus
What dread?

Polynice
My lord, I had a father…
Alas! All the universe knows of his misfortunes.
Ah! My lord, I burdened him with the worst of his miseries.
My people, my friends, deceptive oracles,
Ambition, perhaps, or vengeful gods,
Convinced me in my weakness to send him into exile.

Eriphyle
Heavens!

Theseus
What became of him?

Polynice
I know not in what far country he suffers in miserable old age.
Soon betrayed by ungrateful friends,
Driven from the throne by a brother,
I wandered wretchedly from state to state.
Too late, alas, misery taught me
To detest my crime and weep for my father,
When at last a god guided my steps to Athens.

Air
Your court became my refuge,
In your person I found an avenger;
I met and came to adore the charming Eriphyle,
And peace returned to my heart.
Her virtues, her attractions, her respect for her father,
Touched my heart and kindled love;
The hope of one day becoming her equal
Caused me to wish to please her.




Recitative

Theseus

Dear prince, calm yourself, heaven will be appeased;

In its eyes remorse stands in for innocence.



Eriphyle

You will see your father, and he will forgive you.



Polynice

Ah! That moment cannot come soon enough!



Ensemble

Let us pray for the mercy

Of the goddesses who watch over us:

Under their protection

Let us celebrate the sacred ties of marriage and of peace.


SCENE 5
Hymn
The High Priest and the Chorus
You whom innocence itself
Fears to approach,
Do not unleash the pitiless severity
Of your supreme justice.
You can see into the darkest reaches
Of the hearts of perfidious mortals:
Impious audacity and imposture
Have never sullied your altars.

Recitative
The High Priest
Divinities, protectors of Athens,
Theseus prays for your help;
Polynice joins with him:
Sanction their plans and favor our cause.

Chorus
The Priests
Sanction their plans and favor our cause.

Chorus and Soloists
The High Priest and the Priests
Oh goddesses, be appeased!
You can read our hearts, you can see our thoughts,
Do we deserve your wrath?

The High Priest
The goddesses are incensed,
Peoples, priests, kings, tremble in awe!

Polynice, aside
My father!

Eriphyle
Ah! Polynice!

All
Oh terrible day!

The Priests and the people
Oh goddesses, be appeased!

A voice
No!

Polynice
My father!

The Priests and the People
We must all flee.


ACT II
SCENE 1


Recitative
Polynice, alone
Where am I going, wretch that I am, and what can I hope for?
Betrayed by my subjects and cursed by my father,
Abhorred in heaven and on earth,
What succor await me, to which gods can I turn?
The dark venom destroying me
Pursues me wherever I go, hangs over these shores;
At my sight the vengeance of the gods ignites,
And I defile the earth where my footsteps fall.

Air
Alas! My heart was consumed
By the flame of a pure passion!
Such virtuous love would have purified my soul;
But my father…was my father appeased?
I wanted only to see and hear him,
My tears would have flowed on his tender breast:
He could not have resisted my remorse;
A father is always a father, and I would have swayed him.

Recitative
But I see someone on the mountain.
Who is this old man, accompanied by a slave?
I’ll go closer…. Merciful heaven! It’s Oedipus!
Ah! Let me hasten to Theseus and beg for his aid.


SCENE 2


Recitative
Oedipus
Ah, let’s go no further:
I am overcome with fatigue.

Antigone
Lean on me.

Oedipus
All my misfortunes fall onto you,
Dear Antigone.

Antigone
Alas! Take heart.
The gods owe you their aid.

Oedipus
I am Oedipus!

Antigone
They are watching over you.
They have guided your steps.

Oedipus
I am Oedipus!

Antigone
They will not turn a deaf ear to my wishes and my pleas.
Let your apprehension be quelled.

Oedipus
How they have treated me!

Antigone
Alas, do you no longer cherish your Antigone?

Oedipe
Unnatural children, I loved them!

Antigone
Father!

Oedipus
The gods will avenge your impious deeds,
Cruel and impetuous Polynice.

Antigone
Ah! Have you no pity for my tears, that you
Aggravate your suffering by dwelling on these terrible memories?

Oedipe
My life is anguish; it is time to end it.
Antigone
Oh heaven! You call on death;
What will become of Antigone if you abandon her?

Air
Oedipus
Alas, my daughter, forgive me.
Forgive this outburst of grief;
My misery weighs heavy on you,
The innocent victim of daughterly love,
Your father blesses you and weeps at your fate.

Antigone
My fate! In my deepest sorrow I prefer my fate
To marriage, to high station, to a worldly empire.

Air
My only happiness is to walk in your steps,
To serve you, to wipe your tears;
To me such a fate has beauty and charm!
It is all I have—do not deprive me of it.
If you love me, yes, if I am dear to you,
Let my love at least console you!
That is what I hope for, the reward for my care;
Live for me, be my father forever.


Recitative
Oedipus
Your consoling voice has penetrated my heart:
It makes me forget 60 years of misery;
But tell me, where are we?

Antigone
On a fearful boulder:
Beyond rise cypress trees; in their peaceful shade
Is an ancient temple.

Oedipus
A temple! Oh, terrible day!
What agony! What torment!

Antigone
Ah! Lord!

Oedipus
I see them!
Those are the proud Eumenides.
I hear the hissing of murderous serpents.
Oh, my dear Antigone!

Antigone
Heavens! Righteous heavens!

Oedipus
That is the path where with a frenzied blow
I spilled the blood of my father….
Cithaeron! Cithaeron!

Antigone
Don’t you hear me?
Alas, it’s your daughter!
Antigone weeps and holds you in her arms.

Oedipus
What! Jocasta, it’s you! My wife, my mother!
What do you want?

Antigone
Ah! Calm my fears.

Oedipus
Conceal from my view this somber altar,
Where heaven itself dared consecrate our incest.

Antigone
Father!

Oedipus
Vengeful gods! What did you want from me?
My eyes defiled the heavenly light;
My hand tore them out.

Antigone
Almighty gods!

Oedipus
Who will relieve me in my deepest misery?
My very name inspires horror in the world,
The peoples, appalled, cast me afar.

Air
Daughters of Styx, fearsome Eumenides,
Oedipus implores you; arm all your serpents,
Encircle my loins with their terrible coils.

Antigone
Righteous gods! Merciful gods!
Antigone lifts her timid hands to you,
Have pity on Oedipus, and assuage his agony.
Beneficent gods! Be moved by my voice!
(To Oedipus) Father!

Oedipus
Leave me, wretched Polynice,
I have cursed you.

Antigone
Father!...don’t you recognize me?

Oedipus
What do I hear? Whose voice is this? Antigone, is that you?

Antigone
Alas, can it be that my own father doesn’t know me?

Oedipus
Oh worthy object of my love!
My daughter! Let me clasp you in my arms,
Let me feel my happiness.

Antigone
Alas!

Oedipus
Oh, my daughter!

Antigone
O, my father!
Together
Oh, rapturous bliss!
Let us rejoice in the exquisite happiness
Of living for ourselves alone and vanquishing our tears.

Antigone
I hear a sound… someone is coming.

Oedipus
Ah! We are lost!


SCENE 3


Chorus
Some of the People
What rash mortal
Dares enter this sacred place?

Others
His blasphemous presence has defiled our land;
He has brought the wrath of the gods upon us.

All
We must question him.

Recitative
A member of the chorus
Audacious old man, what fatal destiny
Has led your impious steps to this sacred summit?
Our religion has consecrated it to the Furies,
And any mortal who desecrates it must be punished.

Antigone
Ah! Don’t reproach him; pity him instead;
Ignorant of your laws, he has broken them.

Chorus member
Who is he? Where does he come from? What does he want?

Antigone
He is an ill-fated man who asks for refuge.

Chorus member
Tell us his name, his rank, his country, his gods.

Antigone
He is a man, he is unhappy;
That’s enough; that’s all you need to know.

All
Let him speak for himself.

Antigone
Alas!

Chorus member
Your country?

Oedipus
Thebes.

Chorus member
And your name?

Oedipus
O hostile fate!

Chorus member
It’s Oedipus.

All
Almighty gods! Oedipus!

Chorus member
Oedipus himself.

Chorus
People
Oedipus is an enemy of men and of the gods;
Let’s take him away; he must go at once
So his guilty presence will no longer pollute this place.

Antigone
How cruel; stop!

People
His children are his mother’s children.
Show no pity! He must go and purge our country.


SCENE 4


Recitative
Theseus
Monsters! Stop! What inhuman fury!

Antigone
Alas, they are taking my father away;
Bring him back to me, my lord, or I’ll die before your eyes.

People
Oedipus is the enemy of men and of the gods.

Theseus
Wretches, still your rebellious shouting;
Unhand Oedipus, or you’ll feel my wrath…
Go away!

Antigone
O guardian grace!

Theseus
Worthy stranger, I pity your troubles.
Accept the aid it’s my duty to extend;
I too have known misfortune and sympathize with the afflicted.

Air
Noble victim of misfortune,
Stop reproaching yourself:
When the heart is innocent of wrong,
A man can withstand the stings of fate.
May your soul enjoy in peace
The care we’ll lavish upon you;
In your service we’ll all deploy
As much ardor and devotion as Antigone.

Air
Antigone
O precious and charitable goodness!

Oedipus
O king, exemplary king!

Theseus
Who would dare do less?
Your misfortunes lay a claim upon all hearts.

Oedipus
Miserable I’ve been since birth;
You alone have sympathized with my suffering.

Theseus
Miserable since birth,
Here you can forget your suffering in peace.

Oedipus, Antigone Together
Alas! How can our hearts
Ever express our gratitude!



ACT III
SCENE 1


Recitative
Polynice
Oedipus and the king are together;
At last, sister, I can speak to you alone.

Antigone
Dear Polynice! Alas, misery brings us together.

I know…

Polynice
I expected no less from an ungrateful brother.
I deserve my fate, and suffer without complaint;
But I fear for Oedipus.

Antigone
What does he have to fear?

Polynice
Alas! a vengeful god dwells among us;
Death surrounds us on all sides;
The somber deities worshiped in Colonus
Unveil their wrath with dreadful plagues;
Lightning strikes our foremost citizens.
The people flock together in confusion, not knowing what to do;
They want to sway the gods with a great sacrifice,
And they are calling for Oedipus to be the victim.

Antigone
But Theseus protects him; will such a noble hero
Allow Oedipus to perish before our eyes?

Polynice
Can he restrain the enraged people,
Who believe in their barbaric frenzy they must
Support the cause of their gods?

Antigone
Alas, what to do?

Polynice
My sister, we must leave;
We must not endanger our dear father.

Air
Antigone
Almighty gods, you know our hearts are innocent.
Will you never end our suffering?

Polynice
Almighty gods, I deserve your wrath;
Punish me, kill me, but spare my father.
Recitative
Antigone
Oppressed by age, worn by sorrow,
Trailing his misery from place to place, can he still
Bear the fatigue of eternal exile?
Unfortunate man!...Brother, he will not survive.
Alas! The whole world is in league against him,
And he has only my weak arms to lean upon.

Air
Gods! I ask nothing for myself;
Oedipus cannot live without me;
I beseech you to prolong my life.
Save me for his sake; let me serve him still!
The summer’s scorching heat, the frosts of winter,
Insults, scorn, shame and misery,
I will bear everything without complaint
If I can lessen my father’s suffering.


Recitative
Polynice
Gods! Next to such virtue your brother appears guilty!
Wretched author of my father’s misery…
Ah! my heart is tormented:
This anguish must end…. Antigone! Sister!
You could win a precious favor for me.

Antigone
What would you like?

Polynice
To do as you do, share all your cares.
Be your loyal companion
As you comfort my father in his pressing need;
I will be stronger, and I will have all your fervor.

Antigone
Alas!

Polynice
I know I have done wrong:
I was ungrateful, unnatural, cruel….
But at least let my return make up for
The odious crimes I have committed.

Antigone
What! You would give up…?

Polynice
Easily;
Yes, I hereby renounce
My rights, my scepter and Eriphyle’s hand.
Judge, sister, if I am truly repentant!

Air
I beg you to intercede with our father,
So a guilty son may embrace his knees.

Antigone
Go; I will do whatever I can;
It’s a task that fills my heart with joy.

Polynice
Do you believe a true change
Can ever erase the wrongs I have done?

Antigone
When he sees your remorse,
He will forget his son’s guilt.

Polynice
How my heart longs for that moment!

Antigone
What a happy day for us!

Air
Polynice, Antigone
Almighty gods! If remorse can touch you,
Speak through her/my mouth,
And calm the wrath of an incensed father.

Polynice
Someone’s coming; it’s Theseus…and my father;
I’ll never dare show myself to him.


SCENE 2


Recitative
Theseus (to Oedipus)
Noble unfortunate, you can count on my support;
I return your beloved daughter to your arms ….
I’ll go to these rash subjects
And put an end to their protests.
(to Antigone)
Your devoted care
Has won your father’s love;
Princess, I await a precious affirmation from you;
You know my wishes, and what weighs on my mind.


SCENE 3


Recitative
Oedipus
My daughter, what does he want,

and what does he expect from you?

Antigone
His kind heart thinks only of the fate of one who suffers.

Oedipus
What can you do for this unfortunate man?

Antigone
Alas! His life or death are in your hands alone.

Oedipus
Mine? Do you know him?

Antigone
Sire…

Oedipus
What is this suspicion that swells in my heart!
Who is this stranger?

Antigone
He is no stranger to us.

Oedipus
Gods! My righteous anger tells me who he is.
You have said too much; this traitor is your brother.

Antigone
And if he is?

Oedipus
If he is! Almighty gods!
Do you want to abet his crazy plans?
Cradled in your arms, should he slit his father’s throat?

Polynice
Father!

Oedipus
Where am I! Avenging heaven!
What! Thunder does not rumble; you allow him to approach me;
And you, my daughter, you too have betrayed me.

Polynice
Sire,I know my crimes are heinous:
Believe me, my heart
Reproaches me more bitterly still…
You will not listen to me, you turn away in horror!

Oedipus
I! Agree to listen to you!
What brings you to me?

Polynice
Remorse, misfortune.
Heaven has avenged you.

Oedipus
I should have expected as much.

Polynice
Now Eteocles has robbed me of my crown
And chased me out…

Oedipus
Chased you out! Weren’t you the ruler
Who sacrilegiously banished your own father?

Polynice
I can make amends for everything, Sire, there’s still time;
Agree to join with me against a cruel brother;
My forces are ready; I have powerful friends:
Know that Theseus backs my cause;
He has offered me his daughter’s hand and
is taking up arms on my behalf:
Adrastus of Argos
Is sending seven brave heroes to aid my revenge.

Air
With you, Sire, our cause will be yet more just;
They acted for me; let them act for you!
The crown I, alas, too jealously coveted,
Let me place now on your august brow.

Recitative
Oedipus
Who? Me? Praise your callous zeal?
Who? Me? Accept a scepter from your hands?
What do you expect from me? What makes you so bold?
Get out; for you I have nothing but horror and scorn.

Polynice
There is no wrong that true remorse cannot right,
After all you are a father, and I am your son.

Oedipus
My son! No longer; go, my hatred is too great.
Both Eteocles and you have forfeited all your rights.
In my tormented soul nature is dead.
I no longer recognize your brother and you.
I still have Antigone; Antigone is my daughter;
She is everything my heart desires; she alone is my family,

Air
She lavished tenderness and care on me:
Her devotion alleviated my suffering;
She shared it, she dried my tears:
Her dedicated love foresaw my needs.
Come! My worthy child!
Come, my faithful guide!
Let your loving father press you to his heart!
May the eternal justice of the gods
Bring you happiness as boundless as my gratitude.


Recitative
Polynice and Antigone
Oh gods!

Oedipus
You scoundrel, I curse you still:
Deliver me from a monster I abhor;
Take your fury to the depths of hell.

Antigone
In the name of the gods!

Oedipus
Go; these very gods
Are the supreme judges of ungrateful children.
A father’s voice makes known their decrees.
Almighty gods! Strike their impious heads!
Curse them with horrors as great as their crimes;
I consign them to the Furies.
Bring the plans of Eteocles and his brother to naught,
Brand them with their perfidious schemes,
Muster Greece and their own subjects to take arms against them;
Our offense is the same, and my cause is your cause:
May they dig their graves beneath the walls of Thebes.
To increase your suffering, may you both
Fall entwined, one slaughtered by the other!
That is my only desire; these are my last wishes,
The legacy I bequeath to you both.

Antigone
Father!

Polynice
Well! Let nothing move you;
Let heaven and hell invent new tortures
The better to punish Polynice;
They cannot equal the torments I suffer.
The remorse in my heart is my cruelest punishment;
It is unbearable, frightful.
It pursues me, oppresses me, obsesses me wherever I go.

Air
Rid yourself of a raging monster.
I know my crimes deserve no mercy.
Strike me, avenge both earth and the heavens.
Crush your son beneath your feet that he embraces:
I seek death, I desire it, I await it;
But let it be punishment enough,
Let me be reunited with my father in my last moments!

Recitative
Antigone
From the goodness of your heart grant me this favor….

Oedipus
He has forfeited all his rights.

Antigone
He has earned them all back.
Sire, I answer in my name.
I see him; he is consumed by grief;
If you don’t pardon him, he will die at your feet.


Air
Oedipus
Where am I?... My children!

Polynice
Ah! Sister!

Antigone
Father! Go on.

Oedipus
What! Do you want….

Antigone
Sire, he is my brother.

Oedipus
Righteous gods, who can read the hearts of mortals,
You alone know if he is sincere.

Polynice and Antigone
Righteous gods, who can read the hearts of mortals,
Judge if mine/his is sincere.

Oedipus
Fathers and kings, sovereign arbitrators,
Are your deputies here on earth.
At the sound of my voice may the lightning stay in your hands!
Gods! Calm your wrath!
I yield to his remorse; I have found my son again.

Polynice and Antigone
Almighty gods! O gods!

Oedipus
Come to me, I am still your father.
I embrace my children!

Polynice and Antigone
Our suffering has ended.


Trio
Oedipus
O joyful moment! Oh propitious day!
My son has finally returned to me!
Yes, true happiness on earth
Is found in the peace that virtue brings.

Antigone
O joyful moment! Oh propitious day!
My brother has finally returned to me!
Yes, true happiness on earth
Is found in the peace that virtue brings.

Polynice
Heaven has finally returned my father to me;
An unknown bliss overwhelms me.
Ah! true happiness on earth
Is found in the peace that virtue brings.


SCENE 4


Recitative
The High Priest
Heaven is appeased, its wrath is calmed;
Oedipus has forgiven and heaven forgives too.
May there be no more obstacles to the marriage of his son!
For Athens Oedipus is a precious gage;
One day his ashes will rest here:
So heaven decrees; respect its oracles.

Polynice, (to Oedipus)
Father, sanction our cherished happiness!
To this hero and to the princess I owe
The remorse which touched your heart
And restored your love to me.

Theseus (to Oedipus)
Bless these ties of matrimony,
The more sacred for having been forged under your auspices.

Eriphyle (to Oedipus)
Allow me to be counted as one of your children;
Our filial love, our ardent devotion
Will bring you a happier life henceforth.

Oedipus
Yes, here I have finally found happiness again.
My children, may heaven bless your union:
The hatred and misery that blighted my soul
Are forgotten when I see your happiness.

General Chorus
Calm follows the storm;
Peace and happiness are reborn in our land:
Heaven no longer scourges us with plagues;
In forgiving, Oedipus has appeased the gods.


Danse : (Chaconne) Gavotte (Chaconne)