|Apollo and Daphne. Photo © Oper Frankfurt/Barbara Aumüller|
|Daphne and Leukippos: seeking refuge in the midst of chaos|
Photo © Oper Frankfurt/Barbara Aumüller
Daniel Behle sang the role of Leukippos, Daphne's erstwhile companion and friend, and would-be lover, with great sensitivity. Behle's tenor was exciting and he used phrasing and vocal color expressively. His tragedy also emerges with poignancy, as Daphne forgives him for his failure to see her for who she is, and begs his forgiveness for her similar failure. As Apollo, Peter Marsh won my respect for, first of all, surviving the role with stamina and vocal consistency. Marsh did not merely come through, however; he was compelling. There were a few places where his text could have been clearer, but he brought unexpected and welcome complexity to the figure of this outsider frustrated with the brutality of a narrow society, who in the end has the honesty to condemn himself for being guilty of the same violence. Maria Bengtsson sang Daphne with remarkable beauty and with remarkable range of vocal expressivity. The clarity of her diction and the frankness of her passion were both refreshing; to have a Straussian soprano role with superlative singing and detailed characterization was a luxury, and Bengtsson's phrasing was gorgeous. The progressive revelations of the opera open out further and further, as Daphne comes to fuller understanding of her parents, who have been complicit in violence, of Leukippos, of Apollo, and most importantly, of herself. The final scene I found extraordinarily moving, as the healing and the hope of the aged Daphne is sung in the voice of her youth, as she stands on the moss-grown stones of the courtyard where nature is claiming its supremacy, and claims her community with it.