The Santa Fe Opera

Skip to main content Skip to search

Die Liebe der Danae 1985

July 20 - August 22, 1985

The temptation of gold…

…and the intrigues of Jupiter frame the story of Danae’s love for Midas. Richard Strauss’ “cheerful mythology” boasts lush, melodic orchestral writing combined with glittering sets and costumes.

Music By
Richard Strauss
Libretto By
Joseph Gregor, from a sketch by Hugo von Hofmannsthal

Synopsis

Act I

The throne room of King Pollux is shabby. Only part of the golden throne remains. One can see the former splendor, but creditors now besiege the hall, demanding payment. The King appears. To pacify them, he announces that his daughter, Danae, will soon marry Midas, the richest man in the world. Pollux’s four beautiful nieces and their husbands, the Kings of the Islands, have searched for a husband for her. Unmoved, the creditors plunder what is left of the throne.

In Danae’s bedchamber, she awakes from a dream of gold. Xanthe, her maid, listens to her description of how gold rained upon her. Danae’s dream was so real she is over­come with the sensation of gold. Trumpets sound to announce a new suitor. But Danae tells Xanthe she will only accept the man who can bring gold.

The King, his councilors and the creditors wait in a hall of the palace for the return of emissaries who will announce the suitor. When they enter, it is to tell of Midas, whose touch has turned even Danae’s portrait into gold. He has sent a golden garland for her. A cry is heard – “A ship of gold!” – and all rush to the harbor to greet Midas. But Danae holds back. It is all so much like her dream.

Midas enters, dressed as Chrysopher, Midas’ companion. Something immediately passes between Danae and this man. She cannot hide disappointment that he is not her suitor. For Midas’ part, he is reluctant to continue the pretense. In the harbor, Jupiter arrives as Midas, dressed in gold raiment. Danae recognizes him as the figure in her golden dreams. But can he be the master of her love? In confusion, she faints.

Act II

In the bridal chamber, Pollux’s nieces, the Four Queens, prepare the nuptial bed. Jupiter enters, resplendent in gold. He has been lover to each of the queens, each time in disguise – as a cloud, a bull, a swan and a warrior. But for Danae, removing the guise of gold, he takes the form of a man. To appease the queens’ jealousy, he explains that Danae’s disdain for men has aroused his love and Juno’s suspicions. Her punishments for his mortal attachments grow ever more severe; thus, the double deception with Midas. They praise his cunning and renew their attempts to seduce him. But when Midas enters, they depart.

Jupiter has jealous fear of Midas’ attractiveness to Danae. He reminds him of their bargain. Midas has been given the golden touch on condition that he obey Jupiter’s every command. Midas is now the richest man on earth, but failing the bargain, he will be returned to his original position of donkey driver. On this note of threat, Jupiter leaves. At the sound of Danae’s approach, Midas dons Jupiter’s gold raiment.

Pollux’s nieces are busily informing Danae of her suitor’s wayward affections. But seeing Midas in Jupiter’s garb, they flee. Midas woos her by attempting to unravel the exchange of roles. She doesn’t entirely believe or understand his explanation, but her feeling for him is clear. To prove his identity, he transforms the room to gold. Persuaded that he is indeed Midas, she falls into his arms. There is a thunderclap, darkness falls, and Danae is transfixed, a golden statue.

Midas curses the golden touch as Jupiter arrives to claim her. Midas objects that she must return to life only for whom she truly loves. Each makes his offer – Jupiter promises golden dreams and godlike honors, Midas only poverty and love. In a distant voice, she chooses Midas. They disappear, and Jupiter is left alone to lament.

Act III

On a road to the east, Danae and Midas awaken in humble attire. She grasps the sacrifice he has made for her and is content.

In the mountains, Mercury, the jester-god, reports to Jupiter. The episode has caused mirth on Olympus and thrown Pollux’s kingdom into turmoil. He has brought the Four Queens, who attempt to continue their seduction now that Danae and Juno are diverted. But remorseful Jupiter has decided to say farewell to earthly love. His departure, however, is stayed by the arrival of Pollux, followed by his nephews and the creditors. They demand satisfaction, and on Mercury’s advice, Jupiter showers them with gold. Mercury also recommends that Jupiter renew his suit for Danae. In her present condition, how much more compelling will his offer of wealth be?

In Midas’ hut, Danae sings of her love. Jupiter appears in disguise and attempts to rekindle her golden dreams. But she is proof against temptation, and the strength of her love finally forces him to believe in her faithfulness. He tells her the story of Maia, whose love for him brought forth spring. Recognizing each other’s greatness, Danae and Jupiter offer thanks. He departs, and she goes to meet the approaching Midas.

Artists

Ashley Putnam

Ashley Putnam

Soprano

Danae

Santa Fe Opera

Dennis Bailey

Tenor

Midas

Santa Fe Opera

Victor Braun

Baritone

Jupiter

Cynthia Haymon headshot

Cynthia Haymon

Soprano

Xanthe

Santa Fe Opera

Melanie Helton

Soprano

Semele

Judith Christin headshot

Judith Christin

Mezzo-soprano

Alkmene

Santa Fe Opera

Clarity James

Mezzo-soprano

Leda

Ragnar Ulfung headshot

Ragnar Ulfung

Tenor

Pollux

Glenn Siebert headshot

Glenn Siebert

Tenor

Mercury

Santa Fe Opera

Lauren Wagner

Soprano

Europa

Kurt Streit headshot

Kurt Streit

Tenor

First King

Santa Fe Opera

Chandler Cudlipp

Tenor

Second King

Santa Fe Opera

Donald Christensen

Baritone

Third King

Santa Fe Opera

Paul Berkolds

Bass

Fourth King

John Crosby headshot

John Crosby

Conductor

Bruce Donnell headshot

Bruce Donnell

Director

Santa Fe Opera

Rouben Ter-Arutunian

Designer

Scenery & Costumes

Santa Fe Opera

Michael Baumgarten

Lighting Designer

Rodney Griffin

Rodney Griffin

Choreographer

Colin Graham headshot

Colin Graham

Director

Original Production

Gary Wedow headshot

Gary Wedow

Chorus Master