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Approximate running time


The life of King Oedipus is one of the most tragic legends of all time. This stunning opera, Oedipe, brings Oedipus to life once more.


Oedipus is the King of Thebes: a noble man with a noble wife. And yet, an ancient prophesy begins to disturb him. The prophecy stated that he would kill his father and marry his mother. Oedipus thinks that he has escaped the prophesy, as the people he thinks of as his parents died peacefully in old age untouched by any of these events. As he seeks the source of a mysterious plague, though, Oedipus uncovers some uncomfortable truths...
Oedipe was composed by the Romanian George Enescu, and its world premiere was in Paris in 1936.

Act 1

King Laius and Queen Jocasta have a son. As they celebrate his birth, they are warned by a prophet that the boy will grow up to kill his father and marry his mother. Laius orders one of his shepherds to leave the child in the mountains to die.

Act 2

The shepherd was too kind hearted to leave the child to die, so he gives it to a humble couple whose own child has just died. They brought up the child, called 'Oedipus', as if he was their own son. Now a grown man, Oedipus visits an oracle and is told that he will grow up to kill his father and marry his mother. He tells this to the couple he thinks to be his parents. Horrified, they have no choice but to reveal to him that they are not in fact his biological parents. Oedipus leaves home, distraught. On the way, he meets Laius; they get into an argument and Oedipus kills Laius, unaware that this was his true father. Oedipus arrives at Thebes and marries Queen Jocasta, unaware that she is in fact his mother.

Act 3

Twenty years later, and Oedipus and Jocasta are still married, happily, and ruling over Thebes. However, a plague has come to the city. Jocasta's brother Creon travels to ask an oracle, and the oracle states that the plague can only be eliminated if Oedipus can find out who killed Laius: this terrible sin is causing the gods to punish Thebes. The prophet Tiresias informs Oedipus that he himself is the cause of the plague. Distraught, Oedipus realises the truth: that he has fulfilled the prophecy that he had sought to escape, and killed his father and married his mother.

Act 4

Oedipus leaves Thebes with his daughter Antigone and Creon. In exile, the trio reach Athens. Oedipus and Antigone are welcomed into Athens by the citizens.


Antigone, daughter to Oedipe, soprano
Créon, brother to Jocaste, baritone
Jocaste or 'Jocasta', Queen of Thebes and mother of Oedipus; husband first to Laius then to Oedipus, mezzo-soprano
Laïos, or Laius, husband to Jocasta and father to Oedipus, tenor
Œdipe or 'Oedipus', King of Thebes baritone
Tirésias, a prophet basso-baritone

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