A cheerful mythology in three acts by Richard Strauss
The dream of the frolicsome Danae
It all started with debt and wedding plans born of necessity…
Creditors take over the representative rooms of King Pollux of Eos. They dismantle the last remnants of the former royal splendour because Pollux owes a lot of money to them and still is unable to pay. The king is the father of Danae. He awaits the return of four kings who he had sent to King Midas with a portrait of Danae. If King Midas were to fall in love with Danae and marry her, any money worries would come to an end. King Midas is rumoured to be fabulously rich. The creditors do not let themselves be held off by the hopes of their king. Danae is not the kind of woman who can get married easily.
In her dreams, Danae bathes in a golden rain in the arms of a stranger. She feels caressed and happy. She remembers the experience during the day and tells her servant Xanthe about the dreamlike events of the night. Xanthe reacts sceptically.
To the accompaniment of marching music, the messengers arrive together with their queens. Danae thinks that it is great fun. She will not marry anyone who does not look like the image in her dream.
The customer is good, also for the creditors: Things that Midas touches turn to gold. Now he is on his way to Eos in order to marry Danae.
The four queens have a special fun of their own. They recognize the god in Midas. He once belonged to them.
Danae accepts the golden wedding gift. It reminds her of the image from her dream. Everyone hopes that Midas really comes.
He comes. The joy is great. Danae’s heart turns to the messenger Chrystopher. The encounter with Midas unsettles her.
It is time to point out that Chrystopher is Midas and Midas is the god Jupiter. The god wants to ravish Danae. Because he has a jealous spouse, he has taken the precaution of assuming a human form. Therefore, he made Midas, the donkey driver, the Gold King.
The decision of the mature Danae In the guise of Midas, Jupiter faces the four queens, his former lovers Semele, Europa, Alkmene and Leda. Using cosmetics and beauty baths, they refresh their youth and have a family celebration. A dispute arises. They make a scene for Jupiter because his desire for Danae is stronger than their former and current charms. Begging pity, Jupiter blames all his failings in this regard on his jealous and vengeful wife, Juno.
Midas makes fun of Jupiter, who laments about the aged lovers. Midas demands that Jupiter relinquish Danae. Jupiter gives him his original form back. The revenge: Everything that Midas touches turns to gold. An embrace, a gesture of love, leads to death. In the end, therefore, Midas cannot take Danae away from him.
Danae and Midas are alone. She senses Midas’ secret and wants to know who he is. Midas tells her the truth about his deal with Jupiter. His justification is love. He starts to conjure. They want to touch one another. Danae turns into a gold statue.
Now Jupiter confronts Danae with the choice of becoming his mistress or the wife of Midas, who has returned to being a pauper. Danae chooses Midas.
Jupiter is angry and disappointed.
The self-confidant Danae has her way The lovers enter the existential poverty of human life.
Mercury tells Jupiter of the gloating by the inhabitants of Olympus. This prevents the speedy return of the foolish god to Olympus.
The queens ensnare Jupiter anew, but they do not succeed in winning back their lover. Their royal husbands put them in their conjugal places.
The creditors do not let Jupiter go before they have recovered the debt of King Pollux from him. Juno fobs off the insubordinates with a golden rain. Out of greed, they start to fight among each other.
Mercury cheers up Jupiter and advises him to see Danae again: Danae’s love within the humble life cannot last forever.
Jupiter is faced with Danae’s perfect happiness. Neither his attempted humanity nor the self-expression of his superior divinity shakes her love of Midas.
Jupiter forgives. He takes leave and follows Juno.
Danae awaits the return of Midas.