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Music Text

Libretto by Nicola Haym based on a work by G.F. Bussani. New 1922 version by Oskar Hagen, revised in 1948 by Holger Hagen (G)


dram or colS,dramA,dram or lyrT,heldenBar,lyrBar,characterB,B; chorus; ballet;;
On-stage: string quartet

Abbreviations (PDF)



This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.


World premiere of version
Handel Festival, Göttingen
Company: Unknown


CURIO, Roman tribune Character Bass
CORNELIA, wife of Pompeius Dramatic Alto
SEXTUS POMPEIUS, her son Dramatic or Lyric Tenor
CLEOPATRA, queen of Egypt Dramatic or Coloratura Soprano
PTOLEMY, her brother, king of Egypt Bass
ACHILLAS, Egyptian general, his counsel Lyric Baritone
NIRENUS, Cleopatra's confidant (Curio) Character Bass
Important Romans and Egyptians, warriors, slaves, Cleopatra's maids
Time and Place

Egypt after the battle of Pharsalus 48 B.C.


Caesar enters Alexandria after the victory over his opponent Pompeius. Pompeius’ wife Cornelia and her son Sextus ask for peace. Caesar agrees to become reconciled with his enemy. Then Achillas arrives with Pompeius’ head. Ptolemy had ordered Pompeius, who had sought help from him, to be executed as a gesture of service to Caesar. Thus all hope for peace is lost. Sextus swears vengeance for his father’s death. Cleopatra tries to convince Caesar to deprive Ptolemy of his power. Ptolemy for his part wants to get rid of Caesar and promises Achillas Cornelia’s hand in marriage in return for murdering Caesar. Caesar, who has fallen in love with Cleopatra, is informed of Ptolemy’s designs and manages to escape the assassination attempt by Achillas just in time. When Achillas claims the hand of Cornelia from Ptolemy, he is rejected with a sneer, for Ptolemy himself is in love with Cornelia. Achillas deserts to the enemy. – Cleopatra advises her lover to flee, but Caesar decides instead to go to battle with Ptolemy who comes off victorious. Achillas, fatally wounded, gives Sextus a ring that seals the loyalty of his troops. Thus, with help from Sextus, Caesar is able to liberate Cleopatra from Ptolemy’s camp. Ptolemy is killed by Sextus himself. Caesar crowns Cleopatra queen of Egypt.



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