Josef Mysliveček: Olimpiade

2. květen 2013

Opera in three acts, libreto by Pietro Metastasio.

Clistene Johannes Chum, tenorAristea Simona Houda-Šaturová, sopranoMegacle Raffaella Milanesi, soprano Licida Tehila Nini Goldstein, mezzo sopranoArgene Sophie Harmsen, mezzo sopranoAminta Krystian Adam, tenorAlcandro Helena Kaupová, soprano


Guardians of the FateAlena Hellerová, sopranoJan Mikušek, contratenorVáclav Čížek, tenorTomáš Král, baritone

Ensemble Collegium 1704Conductor Václav Luks

Recording of performance at the Estathes Theatre Prague - 6 May 2013.

SYNOPSISAccording to the opera´s current adaptation

Twenty-five years before the opera begins:Twins were born to Clistene, the Greek king of Sicyon in the Peloponnesus, a daughter and a son: Aristea and Filinto. Warned by an oracle that Filinto would try to kill him, Clistene feared for his life and decided to do away with his son. Alcandro, the king’s confidant, was ordered to put Filinto out to sea so that he would drown. Out of pity though, Alcandro handed the baby over to an unknown woman, Aminta. This woman proved to be the confidant of the king of Crete, who had no children of his own. Thus Filinto, unaware of his real identity, was brought up as the crown prince of Crete under the name of Licida.


Act 1It is the morning of the Olympic Games. Licida, accompanied by Aminta, arrives from Crete to take part in the Games. The main prize of the competition is to be Aristea, King Clistene's beautiful daughter. Licida fell in love with her immediately after seeing her picture, but since he has not trained well enough to win by himself, the crown prince has sent word to his best friend Megacle to join him in Olympia and secretly to take his place. Megacle, who came to Crete 10 years before as a stranger, was saved from death by Licida and thus owes him his life. He arrives just in time and agrees to the secret plan. Without learning that Aristea is to be the prize, he quickly leaves to sign up under Licida's name.

Meanwhile Argene, a Cretan lady who is concealing her true identity by pretending to be a shepherdess named Licori, meets up with Aristea, who has fled the palace, running away from her fate of being the prize in the Olympic Games. Argene reveals to the princess her true identity as well as her feelings for Licida, who had once sworn love to her. The king of Crete however forbade their love and instead tried to force her to marry Megacle, the prince's best friend. Argene refused and fled to Olympia. Shocked by this story, Aristea tells Argene who Megacle is: ten years before Clistene forbade her relationship with Megacle and refused even to meet his daughter's lover. Megacle left the country, and Aristea has been pining for him ever since. Now that she knows where he is, she asks Argene to send word to Megacle to come to Olympia and win her hand in the games.


At this point Clistene accompanied by Alcandro arrives and forces Aristea to come back to the palace and carry out her duties; he tells her that even Licida, crown prince of Crete, has come to win her hand. Left alone, Argene expresses her sadness about the fact that Licida has apparently forgotten her.

Megacle returns after signing up under the name of Licida and is devastated to learn that Aristea is to be the prize in the Games. Despite the pain and anguish that this discovery causes him, Megacle tries to hide his feelings from his friend. When asked about the reason for his distraught state, Megacle tells Licida that he is tired from his long journey and needs to rest in order to be prepared for the upcoming competition. Licida sings Megacle to sleep, suggesting that he dream of the beautiful bond that he will help create between Licida and Aristea.

Alone, Megacle expresses his despair but decides to respect the pact of honour that binds him to Licida: he will compete in Licida's place, thus forever renouncing his love for Aristea.

Just as he is leaving, he meets Aristea. Her joy upon seeing him and learning that he has come to compete in the games quickly disappears when Megacle obviously tries to evade her although he admits that he still loves her. He cannot find the courage to explain the real situation to her, and he leaves her full of worries about his strange behaviour.

Act 2

The Olympic Games are finished, but Aristea and Argene are still waiting for news of the winner. Alcandro arrives and happily tells them Licida has been victorious. When both women seem to despair, he tries to comfort the princess, but she rejects his consolation. Left alone, the two women feel estranged, and Aristea leaves. When discovered by Aminta, Argene furiously accuses her of being part of Licida's scheme. Aminta tries to calm her and stop her from running to the king. She ponders on the power of emotions, which seem to toss people around like a raging sea.While placing the crown of victory on Megacle's head, Clistene is reminded of his own lost son and is overwhelmed by emotion. Megacle, still acting as Licida, introduces his friend to the king, calling him Egisto and asking for permission to leave Aristea in his care; in the meantime he will quickly travel to Crete and tell his father the happy news. Clistene agrees, wondering why Egisto evokes such strong feeling in him. But before Megacle can leave, Aristea arrives. She is surprised to learn that Megacle will be her husband and hides her confusion about his being called Licida. Clistene happily leaves his daughter with her betrothed.

After convincing Licida to leave the explanation of the deceit to him, Megacle is left alone with his bride. Aristea is distraught and furious when she hears the truth and faints. Megacle cannot find the courage to leave her like that and waits for Licida to return. Torn between jealousy and honour, he asks Licida to tell the princess when she comes round that he had to leave her; he still says nothing about his love for Aristea. After Megacle leaves, Aristea regains consciousness. When she learns about Licida's true identity, she curses him and runs away. As Licida tries to follow her, he stumbles upon Argene. She threatens to reveal the deceit to Clistene and leaves for the palace. Licida despairs and wants to find Megacle, but Aminta stops him, telling him that she has seen Megacle jump off a cliff after he had revealed the true nature of his feelings for Aristea. Licida is left alone, devastated whilst Aminta goes searching for Megacle's body. Then Alcandro arrives. He tells Licida that the deceit has been revealed and that Licida has been banned from Olympia. Licida is left alone on the verge of going mad. He runs off towards the palace with his sword drawn.

Act 3

Megacle, whose attempt to kill himself failed, tries to commit suicide once more and is held back by Aminta. At the same time Argene tries to prevent Aristea from doing the same. Just when the two lovers see each other, Alcandro arrives and tells them that Licida has tried to kill the king and has been overpowered and condemned to death. Aristea and Argene unsuccessfully try to stop Megacle, who runs off to stand by his friend during his last hours. Aminta follows him. Left alone, Aristea realises she has lost Megacle forever. Then Aminta returns without having been able to save Licida, torn between wanting to flee and to stay with her protégé.Licida is being prepared for ritual sacrifice, but Clistene, overwhelmed by fatherly feelings, finds himself unable to carry out the execution. Alcandro however reminds him of his duty, and Clistene begins the ritual. Then at the very last moment the sacrifice is interrupted by the gods. Argene arrives on the scene and insists on taking Licida’s place. The necklace she is wearing - a token of love given to her by Licida - is recognised by Clistene as the one he once gave his baby son as he put him out to sea. When the truth is finally revealed, Licida's world falls apart.

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