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=Detail from El amor de Helena y Paris by Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825)
first_audio_name=Richard Strauss: Die ‰gyptische Helena
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product_title=Richard Strauss: Die ‰gyptische Helena
product_by=Helena (Deborah Voigt), Menelas (Albert Bonnema), Aithra (Elena Mosuc), Hermione (Martina Jankov·), The Omniscient Seashell (Annette Jahns), Altair (Falk Struckmann), Da-ud (Kresimir Spicer), Two Servants of Aithra (Vitalija Blinstrubyte and Anke Vondung), Elves (Silvia Colombini, Astrid Hofer, Adriane Queiros and Julia Oesch). Chor der Sachsischen Staatsoper Dresden, Sachsische Staatskapelle Dresden, Mozarteum Orchester Salzburg, Fabio Luisi (cond.)
Live performance: 29 July 2003, Felsenreitschule, Salzburg.