Music composed by Richard Strauss. Libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal.
First Performance: 6 June 1928, S‰chsisches
Staatstheater Opernhaus, Dresden (revised version, Salzburg, Festspielhaus,
14 August 1933).
|Helena [Helen] of Troy, wife of Menelaus||Soprano|
|Menelas [Menelaus], her husband||Tenor|
|Hermione, their daughter [role omitted in 1933 version]||Soprano|
|Aithra, a sorceress||Soprano|
|Altair, a nomad chieftain||Baritone|
|Da-ud, his son||Tenor|
|The Omniscient Seashell||Contralto|
|Two Servants of Aithra||Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano|
|Three Elves||Two Sopranos, Contralto|
Setting: Egypt, 1193-1184 B.C. (after the Trojan War)
In the Egyptian palace of the sorceress Aithra, the omniscient mussel (an
all-knowing sea-shell left by Aithra’s lover Poseidon) sights a ship bound
for Sparta. On board is the raging Menelaus who is determined to kill Helen
for her faithlessness and for causing the death of so many Greeks. A storm is
conjured up and the couple are shipwrecked near the palace. Aithra, with the
help of some magical lotus juice, convinces Menelaus that Helen of Troy was
an illusion of the gods, that the real Helen was faithful, and that they
should be sent on a second honeymoon to an oasis beneath the Atlas Mountains.
Helen and Menelaus are entertained by a desert sheik and his son, but the
foursome find themselves trapped in a symbolic re-enactment of events in Troy
that led to the death of Paris. As a result of this tragic psychotherapy
Helen realises that thanks to Aithra’s potion she will always be living as an
impostor. She and Menelaus take a draught of remembrance and embrace the
reality of their former love, sealed by the appearance of her daughter
[Synopsis Source: Boosey
image_description=Helen of Troy by Evelyn de Morgan, 1898
first_audio_name=Richard Strauss: Die ‰gyptische Helena
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product_title=Richard Strauss: Die ‰gyptische Helena [Revised Version]
product_by=Helen (Leonie Rysanek), Menelaus (Bernd Aldendorf), Aithra (Annelies Kupper), Altair (Hermann Uhde), Da-ud (Richard Holm), The Omniscient Seashell (Ira Malaniuk). Bayerisches Staatsorchester. Chor der Bayerischen Staatsoper. Joseph Keilberth (cond.)
Live Performance: 10 August 1956, M¸nchner Opern-Festspiele, Prinzregententheater, Munich.