Die Liebe der Danae was the last of Strauss’s operas to be performed, and has never had a regular place in the repertoire, which is a shame, as the music is glorious, in its typical, late-Strauss lushness. I’m not really sure why it’s so neglected, possibly it’s because by the time it was first performed in 1952 it was seen as old-fashioned. There is a great deal for the lovers of Strauss’s later operas to enjoy. I especially enjoyed the music of the Four Queens – a bit like the music of Naiad, Dryad and Echo in Ariadne auf Naxos, only more so. There are also a couple of gorgeous orchestral interludes.
The story concerns the attempt by Jupiter to seduce Danae, daughter of King Pollux. In order to do this, he disguises himself as Midas, him of the golden touch. The real Midas pretends to be his messenger, Chrysopher. Unfortunately for Jupiter, Danae falls in love with Chrysopher, and sticks by him, even when Jupiter takes away the golden touch and demotes him to a poor donkey-driver. This production from the Deutsche Oper Berlin in 2011 updates the action from ancient Greece to the mid 20th century, but otherwise things proceed pretty much as Strauss intended. The first two Acts take place in Pollux's somewhat spartan palace. The final Act takes place on the walls of the palace, which collapsed after Jupiter threw a tantrum at the end of Act 2. For some reason there’s a grand piano suspended upside-down above the action, but apart from that, it’s all pretty straightforward.
Musically it’s pretty good. Manuela Uhl and Mark Delavan as Danae and Jupiter are both terrific. Matthias Klink as Midas sings enthusiastically, but struggles with the top notes. The four Queens are wonderful. The chorus are excellent, and orchestra play sumptuously for conductor Andrew Litton.
Sound and pictures are both superb. Technical details: 24-bit LPCM Stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.0. At the time of writing, this is the only filmed version of Die Liebe der Danae. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys late Strauss.
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.
How this masterpiece by Strauss has been overlooked for so long is beyond me. This is the culmination of the Strauss/Wagner operatic period. It is a the story of Midas told in Wagnerian or I should say Strauss style. I suppose it suffers from being linked [stupidly] to the end of Nazi Germany. Forget all of that and submerge yourself in this glorious music. Sublime singing and conducting. An acceptable modern day set and I must point out great singing from the cast and chorus. Yes a must see.
The Blue Danube was world famous for everyone who loves music. I am a layman, I can't distingish the quality of music created by conductors and their symphonies. I decided to buy any musicals based upon certain pieces and certain composers. no comment.