New Productions

(The Egyptian Helen)

Richard Strauss
1864 - 1949

Opera in two acts
Libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal
First performance of 1st edition June 6th 1928, Opera House, Dresden
Sung in German with German surtitles

About the work

What if Helen had remained faithful to Menelas and Paris went back to Troy with only a manikin of the most beautiful woman in Greece? The Trojan war would then have been a ludicrous waste of time, an absolutely pointless battle between blinded men about....nothing.... Inspired by a play by Euripides, this fairy tale-like story of Helen in Egypt begins with the sorceress Aithra finding out that Menelas, on his way home to Sparta, intends to murder his wife. Aithra sinks their ship, gives Helen a potion to make her forget everything, and tells Menelas that his wife has been asleep in Egypt throughout the war.... A few more snags occur in the story before the couple are finally reconciled. Helen discovers the antidote to Aithra's poison. They drink it and, in full awareness of each other, are reconciled.
A decade, and argumentative collaboration between Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Richard Strauss, passed before, between the two world wars, they decided to tackle a »saucy comedy« in which two people pause on a long journey, and reflect, until they are mature enough to make a new beginning. Much like the hero in their opera, composer and librettist reappraise Helen and struggle for a deeper understanding of classical beauty. The title figure whose beauty, in the end, shines from within, becomes the perfect example of how to distance oneself from superficial l'art pour l'art. The complicated libretto and almost impossible to sing high dramatic roles prevented Helena in Ägypten from from becoming a mainstay in operatic repertoire.

Friday 01.05.2015

Further performances:


Stefan Soltesz
Chorus Master
Tilman Michael
Agnes Eggers

Ricarda Merbeth
Andreas Schager
Brenda Rae
Simon Neal
Da-Ud, Altairs Sohn
Beau Gibson
Erste Dienerin des Aithra
Karen Vuong
Zweite Dienerin des Aithra
Maria Pantiukhova *
Hermione, Helenas und Menelas' Tochter
Louise Alder
1st Elf
Anna Ryberg
2nd Elf
Katharina Ruckgaber*
3rd Elf
Nina Tarandek
4th Elf
Maria Pantiukhova *
Die alleswissende Muschel
Okka von der Damerau

Opera Frankfurt's Orchestra and Chorus

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