Sapho Barre de navigation


(Creation in the Opera, on April 16, 1851)

Situation : L'Olympe et Lesbos, VIe siècle avant Jésus-Christ.

























Act 1. The Olympic Games.
After a procession of introduction, Phaon and Pythéas remain alone. Pythéas wonders openly about the causes of the discouragement of his friend. He suspects Phaon to be less concerned by the oppressing regime of the tyrant Pittacus in Lesbos, than torn between the love of two women, the courtesan Glycère and the poetess Sapho. Pythéas is concerned by this affair, because he is himself in love with Glycère. Phaon finally admits that Pythéas's suspicions are grounded (romance: " Puis-je oublier "). Sapho arrives, getting ready to participate in a competition of poetic recitation. To Pythéas enjoyment, Phaon and Sapho begins to express their mutual love. Their meeting is brutally interrupted by Glycène, who did'nt know she had a rival in Phaon's heart (quartet: "Quel entretien si doux "). The imbroglio turns short at the entrance of the poet Alcée, main competitor of Sapho. He pulls Pythéas and Phaon aside, and announces he is going to test the mood of the assembly on a possible political change, in his poetic offering. Competition begins. Alcée sings freedom and justice (ode: " Liberté, déesse austère ") and is delighted with Phaon of the positive answer of the assembly to the appeal. Sapho recites then Héro and Léandre's history (ode: " Héro sur la tour solitaire "). The crowd reacts even more favorably to Sapho's poetry and proclaims her victory over Alcée. The act ends on the hymn of Sapho's gratitude (final: " Merci Vénus "), and Phaon's oath swearing that his heart belongs to her amid the shouts of praise and action of grace.


Acte II. Phaon's villa on the island of Lesbos.
A group is gathered for a banquet. But these festivities are a cover-up of a plot against Pittacus (oath: " Oui, jurons tous "). Pythéas is not incited by this plan, but he is given the written oath to have it copied by his slaves, and posted all over the island at a given hour. All leave the scene with the exception of Pythéas, then Glycène enters and asks him questions on the meeting. Seizing this opportunity of intimacy with her, he agrees to supply her with proof of the plot if she comes to see him a little later in the night (duet: " Il m'aurait plu"). Having gathered the information from Pythéas for that price, Glycère writes quickly to Pittacus to reveal him the plot. She gives the message to a slave to deliver at once. Glycère stumbles into Sapho who has just entered the villa to see Phaon; she suggests not to reveal the plot to the tyrant, provided that Sapho agrees to convince Phaon to leave Lesbos without her (duet: " Phaon pour vous est magnifique" ). Sapho agrees. Phaon arrives personally for a courteous meeting with Sapho. Glycène announce to him that Pythéas visited Pittacus to reveal him the plot (trio: " je viens sauver ta tête "). Phaon asks Sapho to follow him in exile, but she insists to stay. Phaon blames Sapho for this infidelity and agrees very fast to take Glycère with him.


Acte III. A wind swept beach .
Phaon waits for the other conspirators so that they can escape together. He sings his misfortunes in life and love (air: " O jours heureux "). The conspirators and Glycère arrive one by one (choir: " Adieu Patrie "). Sapho is also present and Glycère, to insure Phaon's allegiance, asks him if he always loves the poetess. Phaon answers by condemning Sapho for the infernal gods. While the conspirators go away, Sapho surmounts her bitterness and give her blessings to Phaon. Exhausted by his dismissal, she faints. A herdsman passes (song: "Broutez le thym "). Back to her senses, Sapho chooses the only way which is open to her; having sung a set of stanzas (" O ma lyre immortelle), she throws herself into the sea.

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To write:

Sapho - La Nonne sanglante - Le médecin malgré lui - Faust - Philémon et Baucis - La colombe
La reine de Saba - Mireille - Roméo et Juliette - Cinq-Mars - Polyeucte - Le tribut de Zamora