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Menelaus


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(Offenbach: La Belle Hélène). Ten. King of Sparta and husband of Helen. He finds her in bed with Paris. Created (1864) by Herr Kopp.

2 (Menelas) (Strauss: Die ägyptische Helena). Ten. Husband of Helen of Troy and father of Hermione. Having killed her lover, Paris, he is about to kill Helen, who is asleep in their ship. The enchantress Aithra summons a storm which shipwrecks them near her palace, and Menelaus enters her room dragging his wife with him, his dagger in his teeth. Aithra befriends Helen and gives her a potion—lotus-juice—to give to her husband. This will make him forget the unpleasant past. It does, but unfortunately it also makes him forget who she is—he is convinced he has already slain Helen and that the lady he is presented with as his wife is someone else. Aithra eventually provides the antidote and, after many complications, he allows their daughter once again to see her beautiful mother, with whom he is then happily reconciled. Aria: Im weissen Gewand (‘All dressed in white’); Totlebendige! (‘Dead yet living!’). Created (1928) by Curt Taucher. This is another of Strauss's ‘cruel’ tenor roles, requiring lyrical singing from a voice of Heldentenor proportions (similar to Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos). In the 1997 British première by Garsington Opera, Menelaus was well sung by the American tenor John Horton Murray.

Subjects: Opera.


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