George Enescu

Libretto Edmond Fleg
Duration 3h 15 min Breaks 1
Premiere 20th of November 2015
World premiere March 13, 1936, Paris Opera
Director Valentina Carasco
Set designer Blanca Aňón
Costume designer Barbara del Piano
Video Esterina Zarrillo
Lighting design Peter van Praet
Choir Conductor Daniel Jinga
Children Choir Conductor Smaranda Morgovan


Œdipe – Ștefan Ignat

Tirésias – Horia Sandu

Créon – Dan Indricău

The Shepherd – Andrei Lazăr

High Priest – Marius Boloș

Phorbas – Florin Simionca

The Watchman – Ion Dimieru – guest

Theseus – Vicențiu Țăranu

Laius – Lucian Corchiş

Jocasta – Sidonia Nica

The Sphynx – Sorana Negrea

Antigone – Ala Cheptini

Mérope – Antoaneta Bucur

A Theban Woman – Zoica Șohterus

and the Bucharest National Opera House Ballet Ensemble


Lyrical tragedy in four acts by George Enescu
Libretto by Edmond Fleg



Act I

In the royal palace of Thebes the people celebrate the birth of the son of King Laius and Queen Jocasta. When the High Priest asks the new-born’s parents to name the child, the old and blind prophet Tiresias interrupts the festivities; he reproaches them for having disobeyed Apollo’s injunction to bear no descendants. When they find out the punishment prepared by the gods (Oedipus will be his father’s killer and his mother’s husband), Laius summons a shepherd and commands him to abandon the infant in the abysses of the Kithairon Mountains.

Act II

Scene 1.
Twenty years later, in Corinth, in the palace of King Polybus and Queen Mérope, the young Oedipus is tormented by what he had found out from the Oracle of Delphi about his fate: that he will be his father’s killer and his mother’s husband. Mérope sends Phorbas to Oedipus to find out what are the reasons for his agitation. He barely confesses to the queen his doubt of being abandoned by his real parents. Mérope protests, she doesn’t know that her son died at birth and was replaced with Oedipus. Left alone, Oedipus decides to leave Corinth and fight against the fulfilment of the dark prophecy.

Scene 2.
At a crossroads, Oedipus cannot decide which way to travel. Laius appears on one of the roads, and demands Oedipus to clear the path for him, insulting him and hitting him with his sceptre. In self-defence, Oedipus kills Laius before the Shepherd’s terrified eyes.

Scene 3.
Outside Thebes there is a great misfortune. A terrifying Sphinx sat in front of the city gates, blocking the way for the passers-by and forcing them to answer its riddle. Because nobody finds the right answer, people are being killed by its relentless claws. The guardian of the city tells Oedipus that he, who saves Thebes from the Sphinx, shall win the crown and the beautiful Jocasta, the widow queen of Laius. Oedipus decides to fight the monster. For its riddle “who is stronger than destiny”, he answers without any hesitations: “The man, the man is stronger than destiny.” The city is saved and it finds its liberator.

Act  III

Twenty years have passed and Thebes now suffers from a plague epidemic. Créon, Jocasta’s brother, announces the verdict of the gods: the plague will stop only after the unmasking and punishment of Laius’s killer. Oedipus swears to send the killer into exile if he surrenders willingly. Jocasta tells him about the circumstances in which Laius was killed, at a crossroads, and thus unwillingly starts making her husband suspect that he is the killer. The Shepherd, summoned by Créon, confirms Jocasta’s story. When the suspicions are aimed at him and Tiresias points at him as the criminal, Oedipus chases him and Créon away from the city. Jocasta tells him the story of her long lost son and confirms his suspicions. When he receives Phorbas’s visit as a representative of Corinth, he realises that Polybos and Mérope were his adoptive parents. Jocasta realises that Oedipus is her son and Laius’s killer and commits suicide. Oedipus punishes himself, by plucking out his own eyes. Exiled, he leaves, together with his daughter Antigone.

Act IV

Near Athens, where the wise King Theseus rules, Oedipus stops, accompanied by Antigone. Créon then suddenly arrives to tell the news that Thebes is again under threat, and offers Oedipus the throne back. Oedipus refuses, to which Créon takes Antigone as hostage. Antigone’s screams for help are heard by Theseus, who arrives with the Athenians. Créon tries one more time to discredit Oedipus in Theseus’s eyes. Oedipus protests, and accuses the gods who made him do, without his will, all those crimes. Oedipus feels he’s about to die and proclaims, fully aware of his innocence, his victory against fate: “I am innocent, innocent, innocent! My will was never in my crimes: I have defeated Destiny! I have defeated the Gods!”.