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date: 21 October 2019

Toten Augen, Die (‘The Dead Eyes’)locked

  • Elizabeth Forbes

Extract

(‘The Dead Eyes’)

Bühnendichtung in a prologue and one act by Eugen d’ Albert to a libretto by Hanns Heinz Ewers and Marc Henry (Achille Georges d’Ailly-Vaucheret) after Henry’s play Les yeux morts (1897); Dresden, Hofoper, 5 March 1916.

The opera is set in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. The previous evening, as the reapers return home at dusk from the fields, a Shepherd (tenor) discovers that one of his lambs is missing; despite the darkness he goes at once to look for it.

In the courtyard of the house of Arcesius (baritone), special envoy of the Roman Senate to Jerusalem, his wife, the beautiful Myrtocle (soprano), laments that she is blind and unable to see the tall and handsome husband of her imagination. Many famous doctors, including the Egyptian Ktesiphar (tenor), have failed to cure her, so she hopes for a miracle. Arsinoe (mezzo-soprano), her slave, tells her of the prophet Jesus (tenor), a miracle worker whom she has overheard the Jewish women mention as they fetch water from the well. Jesus will come to Jerusalem that day and Myrtocle determines to ask his help. Arcesius, in reality misshapen and ugly, does not want his wife cured, believing that she will no longer love him if she discovers his true appearance. Summoned to a council in Jerusalem by Pontius Pilate, Arcesius departs with the handsome young Roman captain, Aurelius Galba (tenor), who is secretly in love with Myrtocle....

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