OP0608. DER LIEBE DER DANAE (Strauss), Live Performance, 2003, Kiel, w.Windfuhr Cond. Kiel Opera Ensemble; Franz Grundheber, Hans-Jürgen Schöpflin, Paul McNamara, Manuela Zach, Robert Chafin, etc. (Germany) 3-CPO 999 967, Slipcase Edition w.Elaborate 171pp. Libretto-Brochure. Brilliant sound! - 761203996728
“Richard Strauss’s opera DER LIEBE DER DANAE got off to a bad start; its premiere in Salzburg in 1944 was cancelled due to the political climate and there was just a public dress rehearsal. The opera received a proper first performance in 1952 in Munich but since then it has not had much hold on the repertoire….the opera must be cast with three substantial voices; voices that have the stamina to ride Strauss’ magnificent orchestration without tiring, but that can still do justice to his ravishing vocal lines. This is not easy, and it is perhaps significant that reviews of the recent recordings, based on live performances, have mentioned singers being over-parted; producers tend to go for singers who look and sound the part even if they don’t quite have the stamina for it. Such things do not matter so much in the theatre, but they matter on disc.
There have been three recordings, so far, of the complete opera. One made in 1952 after the premiere, with Clemens Krauss conducting and Anneliese Kupper, Joseph Gostic and Paul Schöffler; one made in 2000, based on the Garsington Opera performances, with Elgar Howarth conducting and Orla Boylan, Adrian Thompson and Peter Coleman-Wright and one made in 2001 based on an American concert performance with Leon Botstein conducting and Lauren Flanigan, Hugh Smith and Peter Coleman-Wright. Unfortunately, we are still waiting for such a recording and it looks increasingly unlikely in the current climate, unless one of the major opera houses takes up the piece. As it is, CPO have released this disc based on live performances staged in 2001 at the Kiel Opera House.
The whole structure of this act, after the orchestral interlude, is reminiscent of the opening scene of Act 2 of DER ROSENKAVALIER. But whereas in DER ROSENKAVALIER the messenger is a mezzo-soprano, in DER LIEBE DER DANAE the real Midas is sung by an heroic tenor, probably Richard Strauss’ least favourite voice.
One slight novelty in this opera is the fun that Strauss has with the quartet of nephews and the quartet of their wives. In Act I he creates some interesting effects with these resources and Act II opens with a ravishing quartet for the wives as they reproach Jupiter. This is a real return to form in the opera. With Danae and the real Midas in the bridal chamber, Strauss does give them some lovely music with long arching melodies….
This recording is a fine achievement for Kiel Opera, but if you really must have a modern recording of this opera, then perhaps consider sampling both this and the Garsington one before you buy. But my advice would be to go for the 1952 recording, recorded by a team of singers who were fully conversant with the Strauss style and had the sort of vocal focus and line that is necessary. It is slightly cut and in mono, but it will keep you going until someone does release that ideal studio recording.”
- Robert Hugill, musicweb-international