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Œdipe, by George Enesco

Until Closing Soon
Opera National de Paris / Paris / Stage

The pace is ceremonial and the musical tapestry irresistibly exotic in the Romanian master George Enesco’s sadly neglected masterpiece Œdipe, which through its four acts follows the hero from the cradle to the grave. Completed in 1931, the work first reached the stage at the Paris Opera five years later. Only a handful of new productions have followed, the most recent a Salzburg premiere in 2019, in which the German theater artist Achim Freyer presented Enesco’s “man who conquered destiny” as a pumped-up prize fighter. The conductor Ingo Metzmacher and, in the title role, the British baritone Christopher Maltman, both showered with praise on that occasion, reunite for this revival, now in partnership with the Lebanese-Canadian director Wajdi Mouawad, who proposes to emphasize the hero’s “unawareness of his destiny” by means of “a continuum of organic, vegetal, ethereal and aquatic images.” Clémentine Margaine takes the part of the Sphinx, whose riddle isn’t the one you probably learned in school (“What goes on four feet in the morning, two feet at noon, and three feet in the evening?”). Her scene lasts a mere five minutes in a three-hour score, but it’s one you won’t forget. —M.G.

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