Joseph In Egypt
In three acts by ETIENNE HENRY MEHUL.
Text after ALEXANDER DUVAL.
This opera, which has almost disappeared from the French stage, is
still esteemed in Germany and always will be so, because, though clad
in the simplest garb, and almost without any external outfit, its music
is grand, noble and classic; it equals the operas of Gluck, whose
influence may be traced, but it is free
from all imitation. Here we
have true music, and the deep strain of patriarchal piety so touching
in the Biblical recital finds grand expression.
Joseph, the son of Jacob, who was sold by his brothers, has by his
wisdom saved Egypt from threatening famine; he resides as governor in
Memphis under the name of Cleophas. But though much honored by the
King and all the people, he never ceases to long for his old father,
whose favorite child he was.
Driven from Palestine by this same famine, Jacob's sons are sent to
Egypt to ask for food and hospitality. They are tormented by pangs of
conscience, which Simeon is hardly able to conceal, when they are
received by the governor, who at once recognized them. Seeing their
sorrow and repentance, he pities them, and promises to receive them all
hospitably. He does not reveal himself but goes to meet his youngest
brother Benjamin and his blind father, whose mourning for his lost son
has not been diminished by the long years. Joseph induces his father
and brother to partake in the honors, which the people render to him.
The whole family is received in the governor's palace, where Simeon
consumed by grief and conscience-stricken at last confesses to his
father the selling of Joseph. Full of horror Jacob curses and disowns
his ten sons. But Joseph intervenes. Making himself known, he grants
full pardon and entreats his father to do the same.
The old man yields, and together they praise God's providence and