Penthesilea is a one-act opera by Othmar Schoeck, to a German-language libretto by the composer, after the work of the same name by Heinrich von Kleist. It was first performed at the Staatsoper in Dresden, Germany on 8 January 1927.
Schoeck used the contrast between C major and F♯ major as a musical basis for his work. Robin Holloway has noted the similarity of theme to Richard Strauss' Elektra, as well as Schoeck's use of two pianos in the instrumentation.
|Role||Voice type||Premiere cast, 8 January 1927
(Conductor: Hermann Ludwig Kutzschbach)
|High Priestess||mezzo-soprano||Elfriede Haberkorn|
The story is about the tragic love of Penthesilea, Queen of the Amazons, and Achilles.
Achilles has defeated the Amazon queen Penthesilea in battle. However, he falls in love with her. After Penthesilea has recovered, Achilles allows her to think that she defeated him, because Amazon law stipulates a warrior may only associate with a man whom she has defeated. Under this idea, Penthesilea returns the affections of Achilles. However, she finally does learn the truth, that in fact he defeated her in battle, and her love for him becomes hatred. Achilles then offers a second challenge to her, but he plans to come unarmed and to let her win. In her anger, she takes up the challenge, and in the duel, she savagely kills him.
- BASF/Harmonia Mundi: Carol Smith, Hana Janků, Barbara Scherler, Raili Kostia, Roland Hermann, William Blankenship, Kurt Widmer; Choruses of the North German Broadcasting, Hamburg (Helmut Franz) and the West German Broadcasting, Cologne (Herbert Schernus); Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra; Zdeněk Mácal, conductor (broadcast concert performance 8 September 1973 at the Lucerne International Musikfest weeks). (BASF LPs 49 22485-6)
- Orfeo D'Or: Helga Dernesch, Mechthild Gessendorf, Marjana Lipovšek, Gabriela Sima, Jane Marsh, Horst Hiestermann, Theo Adam, Peter Weber; Austrian Radio Chorus; Austrian Radio Symphony Orchestra; Gerd Albrecht, conductor (live recording from Salzburg, 1982)
- Pan Classics 510 118: Yvonne Naef, James Johnson, Ute Trekel-Burckhardt; Czech Philharmonic Choir Brno; Basel Symphony Orchestra; Mario Venzago, conductor
- Peter Palmer, Review of Othmar Schoeck: eine Biographie by Chris Walton (translated Ken W. Bartlett). Music & Letters, 77(2), pp. 293–295 (May 1996)
- Holloway, Robin, "Schoeck the Evolutionary" (October 2001). Tempo (New Ser.), 218: pp. 2–6.