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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The man with the golden touch, 7 Dec. 2011
By 
Keris Nine - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Strauss: Die Liebe Der Danae (Arthaus: 108032) [Blu-ray] [2011] (Blu-ray)
Never before released on DVD and scarcely ever performed (according to the notes on this release there have been only 16 productions worldwide in the last 60 years), the time it seems has never been right for the playful nature of Die Liebe der Danae's mythological subject. Composed in 1940 but not premiered until 1952 after Strauss' death, it would appeared to have had even less relevance in the post-war years and in an world of German opera that was embracing the earthier, discordant sounds of Berg, Hindemith and Weill. This wonderful 2011 production at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin certainly makes a persuasive case that the time is finally right for Strauss' neglected late masterwork.

The classical subject of the opera relates to another of Jupiter's mythological liaisons (one or two of his other conquests also appear in this opera), disguising himself as Midas in order to seduce Danae, the daughter of the bankrupt King Pollux of Eos. Danae however, against the odds and her love of gold, rejects the disguised Jupiter and falls in love with the real Midas instead, unaware of who he really is. It's a choice that is to have grave repercussions. The mythological elements of the opera have some similarity to Die Walküre - the allure and the power of the Gods diminishing, the strength of human love that takes its place expressed in the union of Midas and Danae taking its place - and the score accordingly sees some of Strauss' most Wagnerian touches, certainly in Act II at least. It's tempting to see, as the author of the booklet notes on this release points out, Strauss in the role of Jupiter, considering his position at this stage in his life and concerned about his legacy in a world that may no longer need him.

There is however it seems to me something of Strauss in Midas also, "cursed" with a gift that turns everything to gold - Die Liebe der Danae is scored as beautifully, extravagantly, lushly and with infinite levels of complexity as some of the greatest of Strauss' works - but it's a gift that carries with it the danger of turning whatever it touches into something cold and lifeless. Strauss would question the function of opera again in his final work Capriccio, and seems to have reached an accommodation that the underlying truth and life in his work will endure and still find a way to reach out and touch the human spirit. It's taken a long time for recognition to be given to this particular opera, but perhaps the time is finally right. All that glitters may not always be gold, but sometimes it is.

Die Liebe der Danae is pure gold, and so is this production, particularly for fans of 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, 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 full splendour and luscious beauty of the score is superbly performed by the orchestra of the Deutsche Oper under Andrew Litton. This is good as you could hope for from a live performance of this work.
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Strauss: Die Liebe Der Danae (Arthaus: 108032) [Blu-ray] [2011]
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