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Richard Strauss (born Munich, 11 June 1864; died Garmisch-Partenkirchen, 8 September 1949


Josef Gregor


Classical (Roman) - Ovid: Metamorphoses.



First performance: Dresden (Sächsisches Staatstheater), 29 October 1937.

First performance in UK:  Leeds (Grand Theatre), 2 May 1987.

First performance in Scotland: Glasgow (Theatre Royal), 5 September 2023 (concert).



Daphne is described as a 'Bucolic Tragedy in One Act'  It was an immediate success at its Dresden premiere, but widespread performances were prevented by the outbreak of war, and it has never enjoyed the level of popularity that its quality deserves.  The music is lyrical and beautifully orchestrated.  The role of Daphne is a soaring, lyrical hymn to the soprano voice.  The dramatic tenor part of Apollo is fiendishly demanding.  The part of Daphne's mother, Gaea, is composed for a beautifully low-lying contralto.



Daphne, a nymph (soprano)

Peneios, a fisherman, her father (bass)

Gaea, her mother (contralto)

Leukippos, a shepherd (tenor)

Apollo (tenor)

Four shepherds (tenor, baritone, 2 basses)

Two maids (sopranos)


Plot summary

The setting in legendary classical Greece.  On Mount Olympus the community is preparing for the feast of Dionysus, for which the shepherds and herders are summoned by Peneios.  Daphne thinks only of her love of nature, though her mother thinks she needs to grow up and prepare for the feast.  One of the shepherds, her childhood friend Leukippos, is rejected by her and her maids suggest that he disguise himself as a girl to try again.

Amid thunder and lightning, a cowherd arrives and pays court to Daphne. He kisses her passionately and she is horrified. The disguised Leukippos recognises that something is also amiss with the visitor. He is in fact Apollo in disguise, and infuriated at being challenged, he kills Leukippos.

Daphne now realises her error in rejecting Leukippos.  Apollo admits he has been in the wrong in killing a mortal, and giving an apology to Dionysus he begs Zeus to grant Daphne's desire to be at one with nature.  Her wish is rewarded, and she is gradually converted into a laurel tree.

The Cast

 a nymph
First Maid
First Shepherd
Fourth Shepherd
 mother of Daphne
 a shepherd
 a fisherman, father of Daphne
Second Maid
Second Shepherd
Third Shepherd

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