Enter Pridamant, a father grieving for the wayward son he cast out 10 years ago. His last resort in his search for him is to consult Acandre the magician, famous for his many powers.
The magus waves his wand and Clindor, the prodigal son, appears. The lost years are magically evoked before our very eyes as the cave is transformed into a palace, a prison, and a lover's arbour within which Clindor's adventures in love and adversity are unravelled for the marvelling old man.
We meet Isabelle, the object of Clindor's love, for whom he swindles, flights and cheats; Lyse, her jealous handmaid; Adraste, his dangerous rival, and Matamore his swaggering giant of a master who turns out to be as brave as a bubble...
But are these adventurous visions more illusions, and will the old man ever be truly reunited with his son?
Corneille's masterpiece, written in 1635, the year before his famous tragi-comedy Le Cid, was given a triumphant revival by Giorgio Strehler in Paris in 1984.
Image by Iain Lanyon