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R. Strauss: Die Liebe der Danae / Litton, Uhl, Delavan, Klink [2 DVD]

Album Summary

>Strauss, Richard : Die Liebe der Danae
Performers Conductor Ensembles Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Strauss completed his second-to-last opera "Die Liebe der Danae" in 1940. Written under war clouds, the "merry mythology" based on an idea by von Hofmannsthal was given a provisional, by-invitation-only dress rehearsal premiere at the Salzburg Festival '44 the day before all theaters in the "Reich" were closed by order of the Ministry of Propaganda. The official world premiere took place at the Salzburg Festival '52 - now no longer in the presence of the composer, who passed away in '49. The rarely performed opera is a feast for Strauss lovers. Embodying the composer, in a way, is the role of Jupiter, an aging god who realizes that he will never win the love of the beautiful Danae. Bonus material includes behind the scenes interviews, backstage and rehearsal footage.

"The Deutsche Oper production of this beautiful but rarely performed work is an absolute delight and a real treat for fans of Richard Strauss. Directed by Kirsten Harms, there is perhaps some attempt to make a personal identification of the opera’s themes with the composer by hanging an upturned piano over the set in all three acts with falling pages of a music score instead of golden rain, but otherwise this is a relatively straightforward and faithful staging of the opera, set in a timeless mythological world that is neither period nor modern. It looks marvellous and comes across well on the screen, the sets perfectly appropriate for the scale and the nature of the subject. The casting is good and the singing excellent with Manuela Uhl as Danae, Mark Delavan as Jupiter and Matthias Klink as Midas... [The audio tracks] really work marvellously, the mixing giving the voices adequate space, while putting across the full splendour and luscious beauty of a score that, superbly performed by the orchestra of the Deutsche Oper under Andrew Litton, ranges from delicate, sparkling playfulness to brooding, contemplative melancholy. Consummately Richard Strauss then, and this performance amply demonstrates the qualities and strengths of an opera that, like much of the composer’s late work, remains largely unknown, underperformed, underrated and surely ripe for rediscovery." -Opera Journal

International Record Review
[Delavan] boast[s] a highly distinctive timbre with an effulgent upper register, fine dynamic control (here is one heroic baritone who really can sing intimately), expansive personality and fabulously clear and meaningful textual projection...the orchestra revel in the score under Andrew Litton. It has always been a fine house ensemble and it more than rises to the occasion here - the Juipiter/Mercury dialogue is particularly scintillating.

Notes & Reviews:

Run Time: 172 min.
Region: All
Picture Format: NTSC, 16:9, Color
Sound Format(s): LPCM Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.0
Subtitles: English, German, Italian, French, Spanish, Japanese, Korean



Reviews

Good case made for some lesser known Strauss!
Richard Strauss did not write a lot of operas and, of those, the names most are familiar are "Der Rosenkavalier", "Elektra" and "Salome." Yet, according to writings and notes from the time, he personally considered "Der Liebe der Danae" (The Love of Danae) his greatest. In fact, he had died but three years before its premiere in 1952. Some reasons "Danae" has not enjoyed a greater production life to date may be its length (at just under three hours - although hardly the behemoth of operas) and it may be that the use of a fairly familiar Greek mythological tale of greed - as it existed in a bankrupt and corrupt state - interfering with true love and pure ethics was a bit much for post war Germany (and beyond). Regardless, this new production from the Berlin Opera is fun to watch and makes a compelling case for the revival of this lesser known masterpiece. Most are somewhat familiar with the basic tale of the God of gods, Jupiter, using his God of prosperity, Midas, to help Jupiter get the woman of his desire, Danae. Only when Jupiter discovers that Danae has not only discovered Jupiter's deceptions but has fallen in love with Midas does Jupiter put the famous curse on Midas whereby everything the latter touches turns to solid gold is - therefore - unattainable. In the end, Jupiter tests Danae's true devotions and Midas' allegiance by allowing Danae to choose and - in so doing - Midas and Dane become lovers, yet powerless and Jupiter becomes saddened and awakened to the reality that neither power nor gold will influence true love. The performances here are great. Manuela Uhl as Danae, Mark Delavan as Jupiter and Matthias Klink as Midas are all gifted singers as well as actors. The secondary roles, in a relatively small cast, are also quite good; most notably that of Thomas Blondelle as Mercury. The stage design and direction by Kirsten Harms is also arresting. Huge sections of palace wall provide a minimalist backdrop and - later - serve as the wreckage to the palace. Large paintings of unclear reference are toted off during the initial cast off of Pollux's wealth (whom Jupiter has gypped) as is his grand piano. The piano, in fact, makes for the single most strange stage prop throughout. Take from Pollux during the 'liquidation' of the initial scene (by being hoisted from its normal position to then hang suspended from the stage upside down, lid ajar) it then serves as some sort of symbol for - perhaps - the fleeting attraction of material wealth. Art Haus does its usual fine job of artistic packaging, superb video quality and very helpful booklet information. It is also a welcome benefit to have an additional 22' of film interviews with Kirsten Harms and dramaturge Andreas K.W. Meyer. I recommend this to anyone wanting to explore wonderful yet lesser known opera in a familiar tonal world but with contemporary and visually stunning vision.
Submitted on 12/27/11 by Dan Coombs 
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Works Details

>Strauss, Richard : Die Liebe der Danae
  • Performers: Burkhard Ulrich (Tenor); Manuela Uhl (Soprano); Hulkar Sabirova (Soprano); Matthias Klink (Tenor); Mark Delavan (Baritone); Thomas Blondelle (Tenor)
  • Conductor: Andrew Litton
  • Ensemble: Deutsche Oper Berlin Orchestra
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 1938-1940