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Strauss: Die Liebe Der Danae / Botstein, Flanigan, Et Al


Release Date: 03/27/2001 
Label:  Telarc   Catalog #: 80570   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Richard Strauss
Performer:  Hugh SmithWilliam LewisLisa SafferMichael Hendrick,   ... 
Conductor:  Leon Botstein
Orchestra/Ensemble:  American Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

If you think the best part of Richard Strauss' Die Frau ohne Schatten is its euphoric and seemingly interminable concluding scene (and really wished it could have gone on for another two hours), then you'll absolutely love Der Liebe der Danae. Strauss threw himself into the composition of this "lively mythological" drama in 1938 in part to distract himself from the stressful events occurring in his personal life: he had run afoul of the Nazi regime and his family was facing grave difficulties as a result. Also, Strauss desired a lighter operatic project after the grueling work on Die Frau. Perhaps then, it should come as no surprise that he would produce such an endlessly saccharine and cloying score.

The libretto,
Read more written by Joseph Gregor from a scenario by Hugo von Hofmannsthal, combines the legend of King Midas and the myth of Jupiter's "golden rain" visitation on Danae into a modern fable on the love of money and the power of love. Danae, daughter of the broke King Pollux, is to be wed to King Midas, whose fabled golden touch (Danae dreams of him covering her in a "shower of gold") will restore her father's fortune. Problem is, Jupiter has eyes on Danae too, and warns Midas to back off lest Jupiter withdraw the golden gift. When Danae falls for Midas anyway, Jupiter banishes them both to the Syrian desert where she discovers Midas was really nothing but a donkey driver after all. Danae contemplates the life she has forsaken, but when Jupiter tries to woo her away with promises of riches, she rejects him still, now happy with the love-filled, if poor, life she lives with her husband.

Soprano Lauren Flanigan wonderfully embodies the title role, her characterization of this fabled princess sounding remarkably human and believable (aided greatly by her warm yet ringing voice). Peter Coleman-Wright's rich baritone makes for a strong and stoic Jupiter, while Hugh Smith brings much romantic tenderness to his portrayal of Midas. The other parts, including the Four Queens and Four Kings, are all finely sung, as are the choral contributions by the Concert Chorale of New York. Leon Botstein leads the American Symphony Orchestra in a compelling, generously spirited performance marked by consistently fine playing. The recording was made live in Avery Fisher hall, which even for Telarc presents balance problems, most notably the anemic-sounding men's chorus at the opera's opening.

--Victor Carr Jr.
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Works on This Recording

1.
Die Liebe der Danae, Op. 83 by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Hugh Smith (Tenor), William Lewis (Tenor), Lisa Saffer (Soprano),
Michael Hendrick (Tenor), Lauren Flanigan (Soprano), Tamara Mesic (Soprano),
Jane Jennings (Soprano), Mary Phillips (Mezzo Soprano), Peter Coleman-Wright (Bass),
Elisabeth Canis (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Leon Botstein
Orchestra/Ensemble:  American Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1938-1940; Germany 
Date of Recording: 01/16/2000 
Venue:  Live  Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center, NYC 

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