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(Strauss: Die ägyptische Helena). Sop. An enchantress who lives in a palace on an island in the Mediterranean, where she is served by a group of Elves. Her lover, Poseidon, is away and she is missing him. Her Omniscient Seashell (the Mussel) tells her that in a ship nearby a man (Menelaus) is about to kill his beautiful wife (Helen of Troy). Aithra summons up a storm and the ship is wrecked, Menelaus and Helen arriving at her palace. Menelaus is still determined to kill Helen, having already killed Paris who seduced her. She asks Aithra for help. Aithra gives her some lotus‐juice to give to Menelaus to make him forget the past. Aithra transports them to a bedroom. However, now Menelaus does not remember Helen, whom he thinks he has killed, and assumes this is some other woman. Aithra commands the desert chieftain Altair and his son Da‐ud to come to her palace, and they both fall in love with Helen. On a hunt, Menelaus kills Da‐ud. Aithra gives Helen an antidote to the lotus‐juice and she gives this to Menelaus, who now recognizes his beautiful wife. Arias: Das Mahl ist gerichtet (‘The meal is prepared’); Ihr grünen Augen (‘Your green eyes’). Created (1928) by Maria Rajdl. The first Vienna Aithra was Margit Angerer and the Munich creator was Hildegard Ranczak. In the 1997 British première by Garsington Opera, Oxfordshire, this strange character was sung by Helen Field.

Subjects: Opera.

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