Alexandria's founded by Alexander

Alexandria's founded by Alexander the Great (by year BC): 334 Alexandria in Troia (Turkey) - 333 Alexandria at Issus/Alexandrette (Iskenderun, Turkey) - 332 Alexandria of Caria/by the Latmos (Alinda, Turkey) - 331 Alexandria Mygdoniae - 331 Alexandria (Egypt) - 330 Alexandria in Areia (Herat, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria of the Prophthasia/in Dragiana/Phrada (Farah, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Arachosia (Kandahar, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Caucasus (Begram, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria of the Paropanisades (Ghazni, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria Eschate or Ultima (Khodjend, Tajikistan) - 329 Alexandria on the Oxus (Ai-Khanoum OR Termez, Afghanistan) - 328 Alexandria in Margiana (Merv, Turkmenistan) - 326 Alexandria Nicaea (on the Hydaspes, India) - 326 Alexandria Bucephala (on the Hydaspes, India) - 325 Alexandria Sogdia - 325 Alexandria Oreitide - 325 Alexandria in Opiene / Alexandria on the Indus (confluence of Indus & Acesines, India) - 325 Alexandria Rambacia (Bela, Pakistan) - 325 Alexandria Xylinepolis (Patala, India) - 325 Alexandria in Carminia (Gulashkird, Iran) - 324 Alexandria-on-the-Tigris/Antiochia-in-Susiana/Charax (Spasinou Charax on the Tigris, Iraq) - ?Alexandria of Carmahle? (Kahnu)

Friday, November 25, 2016

Olympie, the daughter of Alexander

The other day, while tuning in on my car radio, I heard the announcement for an opera involving Alexander the Great. My brain-computer went immediately to work, screening all possible sources and composers who could have produced such a work. Händel for sure had written an opera Alexander’s Feast, but the singing was in French. Händel in French? Impossible. So what was this opera about and who wrote it?

Back home, I started my investigation and found that this particular station had broadcasted the opera Olimpie (or Olympie) composed by a certain Gaspare Spontini. The piece was based on a play by Voltaire (well, well, …) and was performed for the first time on 22 December 1819 by the Opera de Paris. The opera has been translated in Italian and in German and was renamed, Olympia.

It is obvious that the story is pure imaginative for there is no known daughter of Alexander and no historical Olympie.

The story is set after the death of Alexander when his successors are fighting for control of his empire. The two main characters in the play are Cassandre, the son of Antipater, and Antigonus, one of Alexander’s generals. The fiction starts with Stateira, daughter of King Darius and Alexander’s widow who in reality was killed upon Roxanes orders. In the opera, she survives incognito as a priestess of Diana in Ephesos.

The opera implies that both Cassandre and Antigonus were involved in the murder of Alexander in Babylon. After fighting each other, they finally agree to make peace but then they both fall in love with the same girl, Aménais, who is nobody else than Stateira’s daughter by Alexander, Olympie. Aménais/Olympie is in love with Cassandre but Stateira accuses him of murdering Alexander. Aménais/Olympie pleads for Cassandre who saved her life, while Stateira turns to Antigonus for revenge. The armies of both men clash and on his deathbed, Antigonus confesses that he is responsible for Alexander’s death. The happy end is that Olympie and Cassandre get married.

A soundtrack of the opera can be found on this Youtube link but no live images exist because Spontini’s opera success was short-lived due to his competition with Gioachino Rossini.

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