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The Sunday Opera: Richard Strauss Double: "Daphne" & "Feuersnot"

Richard Strauss is known for his tone poems and operas such as “Der Rosencavalier,” “Solome,” and “Elektra.”  We’ll sample two of his Lesser-known works on this week’s Sunday Opera (1/17 3:00 p.m.) – two one-act operas “Daphne” and “Feuersnot.”  “Daphne” was first performed in 1938 and is loosely based on the myth of Ovid’s “Metamorphosis” about the chaste maid of the title who is pursued by a childhood friend, Leukippos, and the god Apollo.  Apollo accidentally kills Leukippos and, in regret, arranges for Daphne to become a part of the nature she loves by changing into a tree.  The cast on this recording includes June Anderson, Roberto Sacca, Scott MacAllister, Daniel Lewis Williams, and Birgit Remmert.“Feuersnot” or “The Lack of Fire” from 1901 is said to be a parody of Richard Wagner’s concept of “redemption through love.”  Here, the alchemist Kunrad falls in love with Diemut, the daughter of the mayor of the city to which he has just come.  However, Diemut does not reciprocate his affections and leaves him dangling, literally, when he tries to call on her.  In retaliation, Kunrad extinguishes the bonfires that are an integral part of the solstice celebrations and says they will only be rekindled by the “body of a virgin in heat” which shocks the townspeople but does, in fact, bring the opera to a happy ending for everyone involved.  This cast includes Bernd Weikl, Julia Varady, Ruthild Engert-Ely, Kaja Borris, Elisabeth Wachutka, and Hans Dieter Bader.  We’ll finish the afternoon with more music of Strauss that follows the idea of change with his Metamorphosen which some have come to believe was his response to the change and destruction of Germany seen at the end of the war although Strauss never admitted to it.

Michael is program host and host of the WWFM Sunday Opera, Sundays at 3 pm, and co-host of The Dress Circle, Sundays at 7 pm.