FT: Martin Bernheimer reviews Daphne

Daphne New York City Opera
By Martin Bernheimer
Published: September 10 2004 03:00 | Last updated: September 10 2004 03:00
It took 66 years for Richard Strauss’sDaphne to reach a stage in New York. We must be grateful for belated favours. Unfortunately, the version that opened the City Opera season on Wednesday compounded frustrations.
This fragile “bucolic tragedy” contains some of the composer’s most ravishing, most rapturous music. But Joseph Gregor’s libretto, a mixture of lofty mythology and lowly symbolism, remains stubbornly stilted. The vocal demands border on the unreasonable and the narrative convolutions reach a daunting climax when the heroine turns into a laurel tree. For all its serious intentions, the mildly modern production directed by Stephen Lawless and designed by Ashley Martin-Davis created more problems than it solved.
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