GIULIO CESARE (alto)
SESTO POMPEO (soprano)
TIME: 48 BC
An Egyptian plain, with an ancient bridge over a branch of the Nile
(Julius Caesar and Curius crosss the bridge with their followers.)
No. 1 - Chorus
CHORUS OF EGYPTIANS
Long live our Alcides!
Let the Nile rejoice today!
Every shore smiles for him,
every grief has vanished.
No. 2 - Aria
Let the land of Egypt now
offer its palms to the victor!
Curius, Caesar came, saw and conquered;
Pompey, already routed,
vainly appeals to the King of Egypt
for reinforcements for his troops.
You arrived, my lord, at exactly the right moment
to foil those plans.
But who is this coming towards us?
(Enter Cornelia and Sextus.)
This is Cornelia.
The illustrious consort
of our enemy, Pompey?
Caesar, I once pledged her my liberty.
My lord! Rome is yours now. The gods today
have shared with you their dominion, and they decree
that over this great globe's fate
Jove shall reign in heaven, Caesar on earth.
What do you ask of Caesar,
noble Cornelia, descendant of the Scipios?
Put an end to your warfare!
Give your spear to the temple
and let your right arm rest at your side.
It is a virtue of great men to forgive offences.
Let Pompey come and embrace Caesar,
and let the fury of Mars be quenched
and the vanquished conquer the conqueror.
(Enter Achillas with Egyptian troops carrying golden vessels.)
Ptolemy offers you his palace,
mighty hero, in which to rest, and as gift
all that which a subject throne can offer.
Caesar is pleased to accept
what royal Ptolemy offers.
So that Italy shall learn to revere you,
in token of his friendship and faith
he lays at your feet, before your regal throne,
this proud head of great Pompey.
(One of the Egyptians unveils a golden dish, on which lies the severed head of Pompey.)
Julius, what is this before you?
Ye gods! What do I see?
Alas! My husband! My beloved!
barbarous traitor! I swoon, I die …
Curios, help Cornelia,
who is fainting!
What do I see? O heavens!
My fair sun unconscious?
(Is that Cornelia? O how lovely, how fair she is!)
Father! Pompey! Dear mother! O God!
Let a magnificent urn be prepared
for the precious ashes
of this noble head.
And you, begone, leave us!
Say to your master that the deeds of kings,
be they good or evil, always set an example.
A wicked, ruthless king is not a king.
Caesar, restrain your anger.
Away! I will conic to the palace
before today's sun is seen to set.
No. 3 - Aria
I will say, "You are pitiless,
wholly cruel ?
away from my sight!
That heart is not a king's
which yields to barbarity
and finds no place for mercy".
I will say, "You are pitiless", etc.
(Exit with followers; exit Achillas with the group of Egyptians.)
(Cornelia regains consciousness.)
She is reviving.
And I am still alive!
Ah! Let this lethal blade
tear my heart, my soul, from my bosom.
(She attempts to seize the sword at Sextus's side in order to stab herself, but Curius prevents her)
Stay your hand! In vain you seek
to stain the knife with blood within your breast.
Curius who still adores you
and desires you for wife if you will have him,
will avenge you with his sword.
Wife to you?
No more of this!
You Pompey's foe, yet you so dare?
Cornelia, if you hate me,
I will flee from your sight;
but only so as not to importune you
will my heart swear not to love you.
Son of my womb!
What shall we do now amidst Caesar's troops,
you deprived of your dear husband, I of my father?
No. 4 - Aria
I am bereft of all comfort,
yet there is no hope of death
for me, wretched that I am.
My heart, consumed with sorrow,
is weary of suffering,
yet death denies itself to me.
I am bereft of all comfort, etc.
Laments are all in vain:
now is the time, Sextus,
to avenge your father.
Rouse to revenge your laggard soul
which, assailed by a tyrant,
can find no rest.
No. 5 - Aria
Wake within my breast,
furies of a wounded soul,
to wreak bitter vengeance
upon a traitor!
My father's shade
hastens to my defence,
saying, "My son, from you
severity is expected."
Wake within my breast, etc.
Cleopatra shall reign; and around my throne
the adoring peoples of Araby and Syria shall worship
the sacred band upon my brow.
Come, those of you faithful to me
who have courage and heart to raise me to the throne,
and swear by my hand eternal loyalty.
O Queen, bad tidings!
What has happened? Why do you hesitate?
Ptolemy has beheaded …
… great Pompey.
O heavens! What do you tell me?
To secure himself on the throne
he sent Caesar, among his presents …
What did he send?
… the lifeless head.
Go, leave me, my faithful followers,
but you remain here;
I am resolved to go
to Caesar's camp,
and you, Nirenus, shall serve me as escort.
What will Ptolemy say?
Do not fear:
Caesar will look
more favourably on me
than he did on Pompey's head.
In vain does he aspire to the throne,
for he is only my brother, and I am the Queen.
(Enter Ptolemy with guards.)
You aspire to the throne,
proud and haughty woman?
I strive for what is mine;
and I justly claim the crown
due to my head.
and return to what concerns women,
needle and thread, not the sceptre!
And you, debauched philanderer,
return to the days of your first youth
and cultivate dalliance instead of sovereignty!
No. 6 - Aria
Do not despair. Who knows?
Though you shall not enjoy sovereignty
you may be fortunate in love.
Looking upon a beauty,
you may in her find
consolation for your heart.
Do not despair. Who knows? etc.
(Exit with Nirenus.)
Sire, my lord!
How did the severed head
The deed angered him.
What do I hear?
He accused you of being imprudent and over-bold.
A base?born Roman dares say this?
Hear my counsel, o Ptolemy!
Caesar is coming to your Court;
let him fall to your vengeance
as Pompey fell.
Who will carry out this plan?
I promise to lay
this proud man dead at your feet,
if yoo will deign to grant me
Pompey's widow as reward.
Is she so lovely?
Her tresses bind tire, her glance pierces me.
Friend, your counsel is my guiding star.
Go now, consider well, and then return.
Die, Caesar shall die, and his haughty head
shall serve me for a footstool.
Rome, oppressed by him, shall go free,
and his death shall ensure for my reign
more security than would my victorious sword.
No. 7 - Aria
This perfidious, unworthy miscreant
would rob me of my kingdom
and thus disturb my peace.
But he shall lose his life
before faith in me be betrayed
by his greedy heart.
This perfidious, unworthy miscreant etc.
Quarters in Caesar's camp.
In the centre, above a great pile of trophies, the urn containing the ashes of Pompey's head
No. 8 - Accompanied Recitative
Spirit of great Pompey,
that hovers invisible
around his ashes,
your triumphs were but shadows;
your greatness was a shadow,
as you yourself are but a shadow.
Such is the ultimate end of human pomp.
One who yesterday in life kept a world at war
today lies, reduced to dust, within an urn.
Thus all our beginnings, alas, are of clay
and our ends beneath a stone.
Pitiful life, how frail is your state!
A breath forms you and a breath destroys you.
A noble maiden is here,
seeking to kneel before Roman Caesar.
Let her approach.
(Cleopatra, disguised as Lydia, enters with followers.)
Among a train of maidens
I serve Cleopatra: my name is Lydia,
and I was born of noble blood
under Egyptian skies;
but Ptolemy, a barbarous usurper,
has seized my fortune from me.
(How many beauties are united in a single face!)
Is Ptolemy such a tyrant?
(If Cornelia disdains me,
I will at once turn to Lydia
and entrust my soul to that fair face.)
(kneeling before Caesar and addressing him tearfully)
Before your gaze, before Rome,
wretched, in distress and weeping,
I plead for justice.
Ye gods! How fascinating she is!
Unhappy maiden, in a short time
I must go to the court;
there this very day
I will settle your case.
(How lovely her hair!)
(How lovely a bosom!)
My, lord, your gracious favour
moves me deeply.
As your beauty moves my heart.
No. 9 - Aria
Not so fair and lovely
is the meadow flower,
so soft and gentle
is the beauty of your face.
The charm of a flower
derives from itself alone,
but in you is assembled
all the beauty of April.
Not so fair and lovely etc.
Already Caesar's heart,
conquered by your beauty,
beats with love for you,
and his whole will is yours to command.
Let Ptolemy now, with malice in his heart,^
seek to gain the throne,
for the benign god of love
will award me the kingdom of my fathers.
No. 10 - Aria
Everything is possible to a lovely woman,
if she utters honeyed words
or casts an amorous glance.
Every shot pierces a breast,
if she who unleashes the arrow,
is without fault.
Everything is possible to a lovely woman, etc.
No. 11 - Arioso
Within your bosom, friendly marble,
lies buried my treasure.
But why must Cornclia remain
forever despised and neglected?
(Is that Conelia, the wife of Pompey?)
Ah no! From these weapons
I will choose a blade,
and boldly against Ptolemy in his palace …
(immediately after Comelia takes a sword from the weapons, Sextus arrives.)
Mother, stop What are you doing?
Let me have this weapon:
I would take vengeance
upon the tyrant
who killed my husband.
That vengeance belongs to Sextus alone.
(takes the sword from Cornelia)
Sweet words from your dear lips!
In the dawn of your youth
you are so brave?
I am Sextus,
and have inherited Pompey's spirit!
A bold spirit, my son!
I will follow you courageously.
But who, o God, will lead us
to the wicked king?
(coming forward impetuously)
(aside to Cleopatra)
Do not reveal yourself!
And Lydia too, so that this miscreant shall fall.
They will be your shield and open the way to you.
Gentle maiden, what prompts you
to offer yourself to help us today?
The villainy of a tyrannical king and justice.
Under the name of Lydia
I serve Cleopatra;
if by virtue of your arm she ascends the throne,
you shall be rewarded and shall know what I am.
Who shall be our escort?
This man, a faithful servant of the Queen,
can discreetly lead you to your great enterprise.
He is no son who would not seek to avenge
his father's death.
I will arm myself, and Egypt's great tyrant
shall fall to the ground, felled by my death-blow.
No. 12 - Aria
Dear hope, you begin
to comfort my heart,
since heaven favours me
in avenging my wrongs.
Dear hope, you begin etc.
A hall in Ptolemy's palace
Caesar, generous fortune
bestows scepters in sheaves
upon your mighty arm.
Ptolemy, before such grace
I cannot say which sheds the greater light,
the sun in heaven when it unlocks the doors of day,
or Ptolemy here on earth.
But know that every misdeed
obscures any bright light.
He insults you in your royal presence?
(I know he understands me.)
These men you see will open to you
the royal apartments,
and will conduct you there.
(Villain, you have walked into the arms of death.)
(I perceive the guile concealed in that face.)
No. 14 - Aria
When intent on his prey,
the shrewd huntsman
moves silently and secretly.
And he who is intent on evil?doing
is not anxious for the deceit
in his heart to be seen.
When intent on his prey, etc.
Exit with attendants.
(Enter Cornelia and Sextus.)
Sire, here with her son Sextus
(God of love, what beauty!)
Ingrate, before the Romans
you beheaded that Pompey
who set the royal diadem
on your noble father's brow?
Villain, I challenge you to single combat;
with my strong right arm
I will make it clear to this kingdom
that you shame the name of Ptolemy.
Ho there, guards!
Arrest these bold Romans.
Great lord, forgive
their blind fury!
Suffice it then for the present
that this babbling boy
be imprisoned in the palace.
(signalling to the guards)
She who with such assurance
disdains the respect
due to a reigning monarch
shall as punishment tend the flowers
in the garden of the seraglio.
(aside to Achillas)
I have reserved for you
your soul's fair tyrant.
How happy I am!
(How he deceives himself!)
(Exit with attendants.)
Cornelia, vour eyes
hold my heart prisoner.
If you will look with favour on m love
and agree to marry me,
you and your son shall be freed.
Barbarian, a Roman woman
marry a vile Egyptian?
She marry you?
Oh no! Sooner death …
Ho there! By the king's command
let this audacious youth straightway
be imprisoned within the palace.
I too will follow
my beloved son, and remain with him.
You will stay here, and not expect
compassion for what you ask,
if first you do not take compassion on my love.
No. 15 - Aria
You are the heart of my heart,
you are my beloved. Do not be angry:
I seek for love in return for my love
and long for nothing but you.
You are the heart of my heart, etc.
(As the guards try to lead Sextus away, Cornelia holds him by the arm.)
Where, o where, inhuman monsters,
are you taking my very soul?
Wretches, let me at least give my dearest one,
my son, one last kiss. Ah, what sorrow!
No. 16 - Duet
CORNELIA and SEXTUS
I was born to weep,/ I was born to sigh,
and I will ever mourn
for my sweet comfort.
If fate betrays us,
no more can I hope
for days of tranquillity and happiness.
I was born to weep, etc.
A pleasant cedar grove, with a view of Mount Parnassus and the Palace of Virtue
Nirenus, have you done what I asked of you?
Your orders have been carried out.
Has Caesar arrived at court?
I myself conducted him,
and now he is turning his steps towards this spot.
Tell me, is the proposed stage
all in readiness?
The lofty palace sparkles
among the clouds.
But what is your plan?
Love has put into my mind
a mad fancy:
I have decided, in disguise,
to make a prisoner of love
of the man who has won my heart.
Will you reveal yourself to him?
It is not yet time.
What must I do?
Wait for Caesar privately;
then guide him to these groves,
and thence again to my apartments,
and tell him that Lydia
will wait for him just before sunset
to inform him of what Ptolemy is plotting against him.
Front Cleopatra love's followers
may learn craft and guile.
Where, Nirenus, where is my fair one?
In a little while, my lord,
Lydia will be coming to this spot.
Sinfonia and Recitative
(Beautiful music is heard from various instruments.)
What can it be?
Heavens, from which of the spheres
descends this sweet music, which ravishes me?
Only a heart of flint would not be moved.
(Again music is heard. Parnassus opens, and "Virtue" is seen an a throne, attended by the nine Muses.)
Julius, what do you see?
And when did the gods come down to earth,
so bathed in light?
No. 17 - Aria
(dressed as Virtue)
I adore you, dear eyes,
darts of love,
rejoice my breast.
My sad heart,
which constantly calls you
begs you for merry.
Jupiter in heaven
has no melody to rival so sweet a song.
I adore you, dear eyes, etc.
Fly, fly, my heart, to this sweet enchantment!
(As Caesar hurries towards Cleopatra, Parnassus closes, and the scene returns to its original appearance.)
The gods envy use my joy?
My lord, you heard her. What think you of Lydia?
Does Lydia possess such charm?
Ah, since her tears penetrate my armour,
I perceive that such great beauty
fettersmy heart when she sings
and pierces it when she weeps.
My lord, if love fires you,
do not distress yourself. No, no, Lydia is kind.
Indeed, if you are willing,
she awaits you now in her apartment.
Lydia desires me?
And she will also
bring you to Cleopatra.
Lead me at once to the arms
of my beloved, there sweetly
to end my torments.
No. 18 - Aria
If in a pleasant flowery meadow
a songbird conceals itself
among the leaves and flowers,
its song sounds all the sweeter
to the ear.
So if lovely Lydia
lifts her voice in song,
with all the more delight
does she enchant
If in a pleasant flowery meadow etc.
(Exit with Nirenus.)
The garden of the seraglio, next to an enclosure for wild animals
(Cornelia, with a small hoe in her hand, is cultivating the flowers.)
No. 19 - Arioso
Ah weep, sad eyes;
for you no hope remains.
Fair one, do not weep!
Your fate will change its harsh course.
One who is born to sorrow is forever weeping.
If you granted Achillas
consent to his love
it could free you from the hardship of servitude.
Ah, never again say such things to me!
(makes as if to leave)
O God! Listen, where are you going?
I flee so as to see you no more.
(As Cornelia flees, she encounters Ptolemy, who seizes her by the hand.)
Fair one, do not be so scornful!
Let me be, wicked king!
Sire, I came here to soften
the heart of this cruel beauty I love.
Was she receptive to your words?
She continues to spurn me, and I am in despair.
(Heavens, I breathe again!)
Fair one, end your disdain!
(to Achillas, drawing him aside)
Well, my friend?
My lord, this day you shall see
Caesar lifeless on the ground,
your majesty avenged, and yourself sole ruler.
Go then, fulfil your words, and hope:
as reward you shall have your heartless beauty.
(He must be mad to believe that!)
No. 20 - Aria
If you are not heartless to me,
my heart will always
be faithful to you;
but if you remain pitiless
and do not change your tone to me,
then expect only harshness.
If you are not heartless to me, etc.
Fair one, do you so detest
one who seeks your love?
is unworthy to be loved.
But if a king sought you?
I should become a fury to affright his heart.
Is it possible that in that face
there is no room for pity? That in that bosom …
(He stretches his right hand towards Cornelia's breast; she recoils from him.)
Bridle your mad passion,
the urge of our lust;
remember that I am Cornelia, and a Roman.
You resist a king? Stubborn woman,
I will use force if my pleas are unavailing,
and will tear from you what you now deny me.
No. 21 - Aria
You are so pitiless, your resistance
rouses hatred in my breast.
Since you spurn this heart,
false one, you shall feel my venom!
You are so pitiless, your resistance etc.
Come, why hesitate? Now the lecher has gone
let a bold courage save my honour;
I will throw myself from these high walls
into the jaws of the wild beasts,
to become their prey;
death holds no terror for a courageous spirit!
Farewell Rome! Farewell Sextus! I hasten to my death.
Wait! What are you doing?
Who holds me back?
Mother? What do I hear?
Sextus, my son, my dear!
How did you get here?
To save you from the lecherous king
I came here secretly
with Nirenus as escort.
Too certain is the danger
to which you expose yourself, my son.
One intent on vengeance, mother,
cares not for life.
Either Sextus or the tyrant shall fall.
Cornelia, unhappy tidings.
The king commands me to lead you
to join his concubines.
Ye gods, What do I hear?
Do not lose heart;
Prolemy has never suspected me;
both of you come to where the tyrant king
takes his pleasure with his wantons;
there, Sextus, in hiding, will have
great revenge within his power;
alone and unatrmed,
he cannot defend himself.
Great is our debt to you.
May heaven favour so just an enterprise!
No. 22 - Aria
An end now to sighing!
Heaven is not always incensed
against the wretched: it grants revenge,
The pilot, if the sea is angry,
never gives up hope,
and as a consequence
his perseverance assures his safety.
An end now to sighing! etc.
(Exit with Nirenus.)
He is no son who would not seek
to avenge the murder of his father.
Come then, stout spirit,
prepare yourself for vengeance;
before you die, bring death to another!
No. 23 - Aria
The angered snake never rests
until it has spilled its poison
into its tormentor's blood.
So my soul cannot dare
to call itself noble or great
till it has torn out that evil heart.
The angered snake never rests etc.
A pleasure garden
No. 24 - Aria
lend me for a while,
all the graces
of the god of love.
You can ensure
that my looks
a royal heart.
Beauteous Venus, etc.
Ye gods, what do I see? My fairest one asleep?
Beautiful Lydia, beloved,
if some spark of that fire burning
in my bosom could pierce your heart,
you could well expect of fate
perhaps one day
to be my wife and consort.
Your wife? I shall love you till I die.
What perturbs you?
A serving?girl to Cleopatra
aspires so high?
Caesar, do not be angry!
Since you dislike me awake, and you have
to love me, I will go to sleep again.
(returning to her former position)
(enters with a sword in his hand)
Caesar, you are betrayed.
(brandishing his sword)
What do I hear?
My lord, as I awaited you
in your apartments, I heard a noise
reverberating of people and of swords,
and a voice crying: "Caesar shall die!"
And at once I flew to you to give you warning.
So perfidy reigns then in Egypt?
Fair one, remain here;
these shores are unpropitious to us.
Stay, do not leave me, or I must die.
Let me go, Lydia!
I will rush into combat. In your defence
Cleopatra would descend to the abyss
of Hades itself. (Alas! What have I said?)
Where is she?
Caesar, turn the light
of your eyes, which I love,
on me and nowhere else:
I am Cleopatra, and no longer the disguised Lydia.
You are Cleopatra?
My royal appearance
will soon cause
the conspirators' bold temerity to falter;
return your sword to its scabbard, my lord!
Curius, I am turned to stone
by these strange happenings.
I am amazed.
What do I hear?
Lydia is Cleopatra? And I slighted her? Ye gods!
(returning in haste)
Fly, Caesar, fly!
The conspirators are rushing
from your rooms in the palace to this fountain.
What! Not even Cleopatra could restrain
such treacherous daring?
The royal purple
is not sufficient shield against treachery.
Let them come, I am not afraid.
Caesar has never known the meaning of fear.
O heavens! You break my heart.
Save yourself, my dearest! Fly, Caesar!
No. 25 - Aria and Chorus
Amid the flashing of arms
this warrior's heart
will wreak vengeance.
My dauntless right arm
shall not be weakened
by the one who gives it strength.
Amid the flashing of arms etc.
(Exit with Curius.)
Death to Caesar!
No. 26 - Accompanied Recitative
What do I hear? O God! Cleopatra will die too.
Ignoble spirit, what are you saying?
Ah hush! To revenge myself
in battle, I will have
the features of Bellona, the heart of Mars.
Meantime, ye gods who reign in heaven,
protect my love!
For he is the comfort and hope of my heart.
No. 27 - Aria
Just heaven, if for me
you feel no pity, I shall die.
Grant peace to my torments,
or my soul will perish.
Just heaven, if for me etc.
A room in the seraglio
No. 28 - Aria and Recitative
Beauteous goddesses of my heart,
all heaven is in your faces.
Heaven has no greater splendour
than that within your starry eyes.
This is a peaceful abode
where I can lay aside my sword.
(placing his sword on a table)
How useless an ornament now
is this fierce weapon in the field of love!
(O God! What will become of me?)
But Cornelia is here?
Take this white linen.
According to my custom,
it designates the one I destine
for the royal bed, for my nocturnal pleasure.
(Cornelta takes the kerchief and throws it down indignantly.)
(Now is the moment to strike! The same sword
that killed nay father shall run the villain through.)
(As Sextus is in the act of taking Ptolemy's sword, he is surprised by Achillas, who enters in haste and snatches it.)
Sire, take your sword!
What is happening?
Arm yourself: this is no time
for amorous dalliance;
leave the courts of Venus and hasten to those of Mars!
What hostile fortune …?
As I was seeking Caesar's destruction
he hurled himself upon us,
but our numbers finally prevailed
against his single strength;
he fled with Curius, and from a high balcony
suddenly leaped into the sea,
and in a moment I saw
Curius in the water, and Caesar already dead.
(O ye gods!)
hurried to the Roman camp,and with the trumpets sounding warlike calls
to avenge Caesar now rushes with her men
in arms against your camp.
I do not fear
the fury of a feeble woman.
It remains only for you
to grant me her
for wife as reward for my pains.
Rash man! Do you claim a beauty
without equal as recompense for a betrayal?
Silence! Leave me!
I am king, and know how best to reward you.
Is this the thanks I receive for my services?
(Fidelity is not due to one who is faithless.)
Let all retire;
after a brief stay
I will return to you victorious.
(Exit with his favourites.)
Now hopes of revenge
are utterly lost!
Sword, I see you powerless:
to avoid further suffering I seek death from you.
(draws his sword to kill himself
Wait! What are you doing? If fate perversely
foils your plan, vain is your despair, Sextus.
Now that Caesar is lost,
what more can we hope for?
Courage! Be bold!
Nirenus already shows you the way.
Go to the camp:
there you will find the inhuman tyrant,
and, strong in spirit, you then can show him
that you know how to meet death fearlessly.
I will secretly
dog the tyrant's every step
until, to his cost,
I ensure that the killer of the father
falls lifeless by the hand of the son.
No. 29 - Aria
The cruel tyrant
does not deserve
to draw the air he breathes.
His stony heart
arouses my wrath,
which his death alone can placate.
The cruel tyrant etc.
A wood near the city of Alexandria
This is how I am rewarded
for my long service and my loyalty?
Churlish king! Before long you will rue
having affronted me. Let us,
valiant champions, go forth to Cleopatra
and offer her our ensigns and our hearts,
and let our valour make amends for our delay.
No. 30 - Aria
By this bright sword
I intend to humble
and bring down that wicked heart.
One who valorously defended
his kingdom should not have
to suffer his insults.
By this bright sword etc.
(To the sound of warlike music there follows a battle between the soldiers of Cleopatra and of Ptolemy, in which the latter are victorious. At the end of the music, Ptolemy enters with Cleopatra as prisoner)
You are defeated, brought down
by the flashing of my royal sword.
Ptolemy did not defeat me:
it was betrayal
by that blind fate which protects you,
faithless, lawless, dishonourable tyrant.
Enough Such effrontery
instead of the respect due to a victor?
(to the guards)
Put her in chains.
(A guard puts Cleopatra in chains.)
Cruel villain! The gods will punish you.
Conduct her, whom as her brother
I hate and despise, to the palace;
there it is my wish that, in atonement for her defiance,
she shall worship me on her knees before my throne.
No. 31 - Aria
I shall tame your pride,
which abhors and scorns my throne,
and shall see you humbled.
Like rebellious Icarus
you sought to rise above the stars,
but I will clip your wings.
I shall tame your pride, etc.
Can I thus its a single day
lose all my power and splendour?
Ah, grievous fate!
Caesar, my divinity, is perhaps dead;
Cornelia and Sextus have been unarmed
and can give me no help.
O God! No hope is left in my life.
No. 32 - Aria
I will lament my lot,
so harsh arid cruel,
as long as I have breath in my body.
But when I am dead my ghost
will haunt the tyrant on all sides
by night and day.
I will lament my lot, etc.
(Exit with guards.)
No. 33 - Accompanied Recitative and Aria
From the perilous billows
My benevolent fate
has brought me safe to shore.
The destiny of heaven
has not yet severed the thread of my life!
But where shall I go? And who will help me?
Where are my troops?
Where are the legions
who opened the way to so many of my victories?
Must the conqueror of the world
wander alone on these deserted sands?
Ye breezes, in pity
blow upon my breast
to give comfort, O God,
to my grief.
Tell me, where is
the idol of my breast,
and what is
my heart's beloved doing?
But all around I see
the hapless sands strewn
with weapons and the dead,
which cannot but be signs of foreboding.
Ye breezes, in pity etc.
(Enter Sextus and Nirenus in an armour and with visor lowered.)
In vain I seek for PtoIemy to take my revenge;
but my perverse destiny hides him from me.
(on the edge of the shore, lying mortally wounded)
O fate, You have won!
What feeble voice was that?
O stars, you have won!
(Two warriors? In concealment
I will listen to the sound
of their voices, and discover who they are.)
This is Achillas, wounded in the chest.
(Achillas! Is he dying?)
A friend is here!
O unknown warrior
who pronounces my name
in the accents of a friend,
should it ever come to pass
that fate should one day permit you
to speak to lovely Cornelia, to the beauty of Rome,
tell her that Achillas, who counselled
the death of great Pompey …
… so as to gain her as wife,
arranged the conspiracy against Caesar …
… and alone from his desire to revenge himself
one day on King Ptolemy, it happened that this night
he gave up the ghost in battle.
Take this seal;
in a nearby cave
are a hundred armed warriors
ready to obey this sign;
with these you can penetrate
the underground passage into the palace
and soon snatch Cornelia from the villain;
with your help I shall die revenged.
(He gives the seal to Sextus and dies.)
The villain has given up the ghost.
the traitor's vile corpse
into the water.
(appearing and seizing the seal from Sextus)
Give me that seal!
(raising his visor)
What do I see?
But how, Caesar, did you escape your fate,
alive and unharmed?
I reached the shore, swimming through the waves.
Do not be anxious; I will go to the palace
and with this seal effect an entrance.
Nirenus will follow me with you,
and I will either rescue
Cornelia and Cleopatra or die.
No. 34 - Aria
The cascade rushing down the mountainside
sweeps away, all in its path.
So anyone opposing me
shall be swept aside by my sword.
The cascade rushing down the mountainside etc.
We can take hope again, if Caesar is alive.
Follow his steps, Sextus.
Achillas dead? Then heaven has in fact begun
to wreak my vengeance;
my heart tells me that
this longed?for satisfaction will be mine.
No. 35 - Aria
Justice now has in its bow
arrows ready for vengeance
with which to punish a traitor.
The longer delayed is the arrow,
the harsher is the retribution
which awaits his wicked heart.
Justice now has in its bow etc.
(Exit with Nirenus.)
No. 36 - Accompanied Recitative
(among her weeping maidens)
You who once were my faithful handmaidens
now weep in vain, for you are mine no longer.
My barbarous brother,
who deprived me of the kingdom,
takes you from me, and will take from me my life.
(The sound of arms is heard in the distance.)
But what is this noise of arms?
Alas yes! You are no longer mine,
and now you shall see Cleopatra suffer death.
(entering with drawn sword and accompanied by soldiers)
I have forced the gates to save you, beloved.
Is this Caesar or his ghost?
(to the guards)
Ho there, guards! Away,
base servants of a pitiless tyrant!
Caesar commandsyou: obey him at once!
(the guards leave.)
Ah! I recognize you,
my dearest treasure,
by the valour of your, arm!
No, beloved Caesar, you are not a ghost.
(rushing into his arms)
Dearest! I clasp you to my breast;
our fate has changed its course.
How comes it that you are safe?
There will be time enough to reveal to you
all the unknown story of my survival.
But you are free; meanwhile go to the port
and reassemble the scattered troops;
there you will see me again;
Mars calls me to a total campaign for this soil
To conquer, not Egypt but the world,
the daring of this heart alone is sufficient.
(Exit with the soldiers.)
No. 37 - Aria
When a ship, ras aged by storms,
comes safely into harbour,
there is no more to be desired.
So now that my heart finds comfort
after its suffering and tears,
my soul regains its happiness.
When a ship, ravaged by storms, etc.
The royal hall
Cornelia, the time has come to take pity
on a king who languishes for you.
You hope in vain for me to weaken.
How can I forget my dead husband?
The ruler of Egypt offers you another:
dear one, I hold you in my arms.
(tries to embrace her)
Away from me, base wretch,
and recall that Cornelia is a Roman.
I have nothing more to fear; Caesar dead,
Cleopatra humbled, now I follow
only my own desires.
(tries again to accost her)
If you fear no one,
fear this blade,
which is ready for me alone to take revenge
for my dead husband!
(She draws a dagger from her garment. As she is about to make an attack on PtoIemy's life, Sextus rushes in with a naked sword in his hand.)
Leave the tyrant to me!
(unsheathing his sword)
I am betrayed, o gods!
Know this, perfidious monster, and for your disquiet:
the gods preserved Caesar safe
and unharmed from treachery,
and he freed Cleopatra from her unjust chains;
he is coming here; I have preceded him,
and now demand that blood owed to Sextus!
You will very soon rue your mad rashness.
(They fight. Ptolemy is wounded and falls dead.)
Now indeed I see in you great Pompey 's son,
and clasp you to my breast.
There lies the tyrant, dead;
now indeed, father, though vanquished you are the victor.
No. 38 - Aria
My soul, now avenged,
has no more to fear:
now it can he happy;
I start to breathe again.
Now may all im torment
be changed to pleasure,
for lamenting is not needful
if heaven restores my hopes.
My soul, now avenged, etc.
The port of Alexandria
(Enter Caesar, Cleopatra and a following of Egyptians with trumpets and drums.
After the opening music, Curius and Nirenus enter, then Sextus and Cornelia, with a page carrying Ptolemy's sceptre and crown.)
Curius is the victor here, Egypt is yours;
in these shores by the sea
all acclaim Caesar
as lord of the world and Roman emperor.
For his faithful service
Nirenus shall be suitably rewarded:
Curius, the valour of your strong right ar
is already famous.
But you, Cornelia?
My lord, here at your feet
is the son of Cornelia and Pompey:
he has avenged the stain
of that dreadful treacherywith his sword,
and bereft Ptolemy of his soul and his lifeblood.
Is Ptolemy dead?
Had Sextus not quickly
sprung to my defence,
Cornelia's honour would have been in danger.
To avenge a father
is a son's duty:
arise, Sextus, I embrace you as a friend.
To you I will give all my loyalty
Here are the royal symbols
of the dead tyrant; I give them to you.
(She gives Ptolemy's crown and sceptre to Caesar.)
Most lovely Cleopatra, that diadem
which you see awaits you:
with it I deck your hair.
As Queen of Egypt you will give order
to the people and law to the throne.
Caesar, this kingdom is your gift alone;
as a tributary queen
I will revere the Emperor of Rome.
(Love, who ever saw more beautiful hair?)
No. 39 - Duet
CLEOPATRA and CAESAR
My dear!/My fair one! More lovable beauty
will never be found
than in your face.
Neither love nor fidelity
apart from me/you
will ever shine in you/me.
My dear!/My fair one! More lovable beauty etc.
Let Egypt now
in more tranquil state
enjoy its first liberty.
It is Caesar's wish that fame shall spread
the great name of Rome from one pole to the other.
No. 40 - Chorus and Duet
CHORUS OF EGYPTIANS
Let fair joy and pleasure
now return within our hearts;
our breasts are relieved of all sorrow
and we may rejoice once again.
CLEOPATRA and CAESAR
Sweet content will fill my, breast
if you will always be true to me.
Thus bitter grief has left my heart,
and only love for you, constancy and faith remain.
CHORUS OF EGYPTIANS
Let fair joy and pleasure etc.
Translation: Lionel Salter