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Libretto by Hanns Heinz Ewers after Marc Henry (G)

Scoring

7S,M,A,3T,2Bar,B; chorus
3(III=picc).3(III=corA).3(III=bcl).3-4.5.3.1-timp.perc-2harps-cel-strings

Abbreviations (PDF)

World Premiere
05/03/1916
Hofoper, Dresden
Company: Unknown

Roles

THE SHEPHERD Tenor
THE REAPER Baritone
THE SHEPHERD-BOY Soprano
ARCESIUS, Special envoy of the Roman Senate in Jerusalem Heldenbaritone
MYRTOCLE, his wife, from Corinth Dramatic Soprano
AURELIUS GALBA, Roman captain, friend of Arcesius Heldentenor
ARSINOE, Myrtocle´s slave, from the Greek islands Soprano
MARY MAGDALENE Dramatic Contralto
KTESIPHAR, Egyptian faith-healer Buffo Tenor
Jewish women: REBECCA Lyric Soprano
RUTH Mezzo Soprano
ESTHER and SARAH Coloratura Sopranos
A SICK WOMAN Soprano
FOUR JEWS Tenors / Baritones
AN OLD JEW Lyric Bass
A shepherd Bass
Arcesius' male and female slaves
Jewish crowd
Reapers
Time and Place

Jerusalem in Roman times

Synopsis



Myrtocle, wife of the Roman envoy, Arcesius, is blind. She loves her ugly husband passionately, believing him to be more handsome than even the god Eros himself. Arcesius does not disillusion her for he is afraid that she would not love him if she knew of his ugliness. When Jesus of Nazareth comes to the town and everyone talks about the miracles that he performs, Myrtocle is taken to him and her sight is restored. Returning home, she meets the handsome captain, Aurelius Galba, Arcesius' friend, whom she takes to be her husband. Aurelius reciprocates her kisses and embraces but Arcesius, from a hiding place, has witnessed the misunderstanding and he kills Aurelius in a fit of mad jealousy. Myrtocle is horrified when she learns from her maid that it is not the dead man who is her husband but the misshapen murderer, who had seemed to her like a wild animal. To save their love, Myrtocle decides to sacrifice the light of her eyes that she has just regained. She lets the sun's rays blind her and allows Arcesius to believe that she never saw him.

Moods

Dramatic, Poetic, Romantic, Tragic

Subjects

Ethics, Magic/Mystery, Relationships, Religion

Recommended Recording

Lothar Odinius / Olaf Bär / Dresden Philharmonic Choir / Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra / Ralf Weikert
CPO 9996922

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