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Gluck
Alceste
English
Title Page
Act 1
Act 2
Act 3
French
Synopsis
Italian
Synopsis
Title Page
Act 1
Act 2
Act 3

 
 

Act III

Scene 1
The magnificent entrance hall of the palace.
 
Admetus
Ah, my faithful follower!
 
Evander
Ah, my king!
 
Admetus
The vow of Alcestis cannot be revoked.
 
Evander
You cannot die for her yourself.
 
Admetus
The heavens will not allow it.
 
Evander
The God is silent.
Oh fates too dreadful for us!
 
Admetus
Alcestis has to die.
 
Evander
We lose Alcestis!
 
Admetus
You weep, beloved Evander,
and you are right to do so.
But suffering is measured only by one’s own suffering.
See to what pain the gods condemn me.
I cannot die for the one who dies for me!
I hate Life, and the tomb is closed to me!
At every moment of my wretched days I shall remember
the faithfulness of lost Alcestis,
her love, courage, constancy:
in every object I shall imagine her beauty,
that sweet, lovely look,
that gentle smile, that modest blush.
More vivid still will these proud memories be
in the likenesses of the children;
and I must always embrace them weeping,
sigh and kiss them…
Ah what a contrast of opposite feelings!
Oh what a long succession of tenderness
pity and horror, so bitter for a husband,
for a father, is heaven preparing!
 
Wretched man! And what shall I do!
And how, and how, and with what heart
shall I embrace my children;
as in its harshness
the barbarous pity of tyrannous heaven
keeps me still alive!
Wretched that I am! And with what heart
shall I comfort them,
how shall I answer them
when, bathed in tears,
they remind their father
of their mother!
They will ask me – ah what grief –
for their mother.
 
No, I do not find in me
such dreadful constancy in such pain:
in foretelling it
my heart shudders…
Into what abyss have I fallen, in a single day,
from the height of contentment.
You envied me my happiness, O gods!
Too similar to yours was my state
When I had Alcestis!
And yet, O God!
How can I see her die in my arms,
and from her fair eyes the light fade,
and see in that fair face, and on that fair bosom
the cold, black spreading of grey death!
Ah now quickly flies the moment
and this scene of horror is at hand.
Wretched that I am! What do I see! Lo, she is here!
O sight! O cruelty! She comes forward
unsteadily, languishing,
and with her she has the children,
and there comes for the last parting my…
Ah, no longer mine! – my faithful wife…
O Alcestis, O children,
O parting, O death!
 
 
Scene 2
(Alcestis appears, supported by Ismene, with Eumelus, Aspasia and the attendants of Alcestis; then the Gods of the Underworld)
 
Alcestis
Husband, Admetus, my idol!
Lo, the moment that parts me from you
and breaks
our loving chains for ever.
About me hovers
the haughty shadow of death
that grasps his sword, raises his right hand,
and signals to give the fatal blow.
Soon Alcestis, a cold corpse
in cold marble hidden,
will be no longer mother, queen and wife.
 
Admetus
O agony!
 
Evander
O cruel vow!
 
Ismene
O faithfulness!
 
Alcestis
The Gods all know, my dearest,
if in the youthfulness that smiles on me,
if as lover and beloved, mother and Queen,
accustomed to the joys of life,
with a single sigh I made you a gift of it.
Ah this gift deserves a reward!
Here it is:
I ask that our children do not see you
take another wife in your arms.
If you promise it, if you swear it to me,
to our dear children, to the Gods,
I shall close my eyes in peace to eternal rest.
 
Admetus
Alcestis! My treasure!
Ah! What you ask is my sacred duty.
Yes, I promise, I will fulfil it:
I swear to the Gods, to you.
You alone did I love, Alcestis, while you lived:
dead, I shall always adore you.
These children shall be my only children.
Every happiness flies from me with your death:
there remains for me weeping, mourning, pain,
that will end with the ending of my days…
And oh happy would I be,
if heaven hastened this sweet moment
to bring me to you again in the serene
calm abode, to the beautiful souls of the elect.
 
Alcestis
Come then and receive from the hand of your wife
these beloved pledges that I entrust to you
and take your last farewell.
 
Admetus
The last!
 
Alcestis
Ah!… Yes.
 
Admetus
I feel my heart rent
by a flood of sorrow!
 
 
Alcestis
Aspasia, Eumelus,
O dear sharers in this bosom!
Think of me, come
often to my tomb,
deck it with flowers.
(A loving shade I will hover round you.)
And of your poor mother’s
memorable vow, faithfulness, love,
sometimes remind your father…
 
Dear children, ah, do not weep;
all his tender affection
your father promises you.
 
Admetus
Dear children, ah, you alone will be
the comfort and the delight
of this heart!
 
Alcestis
Be consoled, O beloved husband!
 
Admetus
Too barbarous is my fate!
 
Alcestis, Admetus
Ah my beloved! In such a moment
only your sorrow troubles me!
 
Admetus
What bitter torment,
what torture, what death
to see my sweet wife
torn from me.
I am the example
of how much
a wretched man, O God,
can suffer living.
Gods, friends, ah who will help me!
 
Alcestis
Husband, children, ah, while she lives
embrace yet Alcestis.
 
Admetus, Ismene, Evander
But what sound of terrible voices,
what gloom and darkness
surprises us, covers us with horror!
 
Admetus
So many fearful shades!
What will become of us! O consort!
 
Evander
So many ghosts of
fierce and threatening appearance!
 
Ismene
What is their wish?
 
Eumelus, Aspasia
Ah mother!
 
Gods of the Underworld
Come, Alcestis; remember your vow;
never did fate so long delay
her harsh, savage severity.
 
Alcestis
Alas! Who shakes me!
Who stirs me
from that dulling of the senses
in which I languished, without any grief,
at peace and unspeaking.
Who are these that surround me!
Ah, I am lost!
 
Gods of the Underworld
Why do you stay!
You are the victim of Dis
 
Admetus
Stop: hear be satisfied O gods,
and take away with you a loving husband.
who without her will surely live no more.
 
Gods of the Underworld
No more is allowed,
There is no more mercy.
 
Admetus
But at least a moment…
 
Alcestis
But one more embrace…
 
Gods of the Underworld
No more is allowed,
there is no more mercy.
 
A God
Come!
 
Admetus
Ah barbarians!
 
A God
Rein in, rash mortal,
the ill-considered passion that transports you.
 
Alcestis
Children, farewell!
Husband, farewell!
 
Admetus
I die!
 
Alcestis
I am dead.
 
(Alcestis is carried off by the Gods of the Underworld. Admetus falls, fainting, and is led within.)
 
 
Scene 3
 
Sinfonia
 
A Voice
Has she died?
 
Another Voice
Does she live no more?
 
Evander
Among those shades she is hidden
and has gone.
 
Ismene
I freeze… with terror.
 
Evander
I tremble… with fear.
 
Ismene, Evander
O how we grieve!
Who will help us?
Who comfort us?
 
Courtiers
Weep, O country, O Thessaly,
Alcestis is dead,
Alcestis is dead!
 
Ismene
Alcestis is dead! Alas!
Never shall tears have an end,
that will bathe
these sad shores!
 
Courtiers
Weep, O country, etc.
 
Evander
Death triumphs
and distorts the virtue of beauty,
removing
the model of honesty.
 
Courtiers
Weep, O country, etc.
 
Ismene, Evander
Every finest virtue
has departed with her:
In this way, gods,
you wished to punish us!
 
Courtiers
Weep, O country, etc.
 
(Admetus enters, with his courtiers, who cluster round to disarm him.)
 
 
Scene 4
 
Admetus
Leave me, cruel men,
in vain you hope to prevent my death:
in vain heaven opposes my designs.
Alcestis is dead; and life
is now torture for me.
How could I bear to look at
these hateful walls!
To turn my gaze and see her no more!
To go wandering about
and everywhere encounter
loneliness and grief!
Ah! He who prevents
such an evil fate by dying
is the worst of living men,
an object of my hatred.
 
Ismene
Ah, lord!
 
Evander
Ah, my king!
 
Admetus
Stand aside: be silent:
leave me, for pity.
 
Ismene
But this realm…
 
Evander
But these children…
 
Admetus
Ismene, Evander, O God!
Cease to torture me…
I have in my mind,
in my heart, none other than Alcestis,
and wish to be with her again.
 
(A light starts to appear in the sky.)
 
Ismene
But what unexpected lightning flash was that?
 
Evander
What great light sets ablaze the clouds?
 
Admetus
Ah, in the tomb itself
shall I be enclosed with my adored wife:
I shall follow her faithfully to the happy place
that heaven keeps
for the just and for heroes.
 
Evander
Stop…
 
Ismene
Wait…
 
Admetus
What is happening?
 
Evander
Look…
 
Ismene
See…
 
Admetus
What wonders are these?
 
Ismene
Ah, a god!
 
Evander
A god descends among us
and seems to bear with him
all the rays of the sun.
 
Admetus
I am amazed.
 
Ismene, Evander
I am strengthened.
 
Admetus
It is Apollo!
 
 
Ismene, Evander
It is he!
 
 
Final Scene
(Apollo on a shining cloud; Alcestis amid clouds)
 
Apollo
Admetus, even in heaven
your wretched suffering
has aroused pity. Your faithful
wife’s generous vow
has pleased the gods.
Two such constant lovers
deserve a better fate.
As on earth one day
you welcomed me,
so receive the greatest reward
that through the favour of heaven
a mortal can hope for:
I give you back Alcestis.
 
Admetus
Ah, my life!
 
Alcestis
Ah, my beloved!
 
Admetus
You live!
 
Alcestis
I embrace you!
 
Admetus
O wonder!
 
Alcestis
O amazement!
 
Admetus
O happiness!
 
Alcestis
O dear children! O beloved husband!
And now again I clasp you all to my bosom.
 
Admetus
O merciful heaven!
O kindly god! O happy day!
Let my realm celebrate
this unexpected event;
prepare solemn sacrifice,
and let your first thoughts, my dearest,
and my first vows,
on so happy a day
be given to the gods.
 
Courtiers
Reign over us in happiness,
excellent lady, whose equal on the throne
no other lady ever was.
Fair and chaste, and wise and strong:
in you are joined
all beauties and all virtues…
 
 
Translation: Keith Anderson
 
 

 


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5:42:27 PM, 21 October 2014
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