opera-oratorio in two acts Music: Igor Stravinsky Production by Jonathan Miller (2003)
Libretto (in French) by Jean Cocteau, after the play Oedipus Tyrannus by Sophocles Latin sections translated by Jean Danielou
Musical Director: Valery Gergiev Stage Director: Jonathan Miller Set Designers: Jonathan Miller and Charles Quiggin Costume Designer: Sue Willmington Lighting Designer: Mrs DM Wood Principal Chorus Master: Andrei Petrenko Musical Preparation: Natalia Domskaya
•World premiere: 30 May 1927, Theatre Sarah-Bernhardt, Paris; •Premiere of this production: 10 April 2003, Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg
Production sponsored by Lenenergo
Running time: 1 hour The Performance without an interval
"I considered an opera or an oratorio based on some plot that everyone knows. This way, I wanted to focus the audience’s attention not on the story but on the music itself, which would thus take on meaning, words and action," the composer recalled in his autobiographical Chronicle of My Life. Taking advice from the renowned writer and cultural figure Jean Cocteau who wrote the opera’s libretto, Stravinsky turned to the tragedy Oedipus the King by the brilliant Ancient Greek dramatist Sophocles. The plot is based on the myth about the terrible fate of Oedipus who commits patricide and marries his own mother. Enraged by this monstrous union of blood and the murder, the gods mercilessly punish the people of Thebes of whom Oedipus is now king having solved the riddle of the Sphinx. Learning the terrible truth, his wife Jocasta commits suicide and Oedipus himself leaves Thebes having put out his own eyes. For the co-creators, however, it was important "to concentrate the tragedy not on Oedipus himself and the other characters but on the fateful denouement which is where the whole meaning of the piece lies." Oedipus Rex heralded the start of a new period in Igor Stravinsky’s work which is generally known as "neoclassical."