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Danaïdes, Les (Roullet & Tschudi)




Extrait du live-disque Les Danaïdes d'Antonio Salieri.


Act I

The stage represents a sea-shore. At the nearby temple, the fifty daughters of Danaus, the Danaids, are about to be married to their fifty cousins, the sons of Ægyptus, in order to bring peace between the two branches of the family.

On the altar of the goddess Juno, Danaus and his nephew Lynceus swear to end the hatred between them. Danaus’s eldest daughter, Hypermnestra, and Ægyptus’s son, Lynceus, celebrate their love and happiness.

Act II

A place in the depths of the palace set aside for the worship of Nemesis, the goddess of vengeance. In the centre, a statue of the goddess, in the foreground an altar.

Danaus gathers his daughters in the temple of Nemesis and informs them that the reconciliation is a deception, aimed at avenging the wrongs committed against him by his twin brother Ægyptus. He orders them to kill their husbands on their wedding night. Hypermnestra is alone in refusing to swear obedience to her father. Left alone with his eldest daughter, Danaus confronts her: she too must promise to do his bidding. An oracle has predicted that if his vengeance is not complete, he will be murdered by one of his nephews. Unable to choose between loyalty to her father and her love for Lynceus, Hypermnestra appeals to the gods to strike her dead.


A garden decorated for the festivities in celebration of Bacchus and the gods of marriage – festivities that in ancient times followed the evening banquet on the wedding day.

The wedding celebrations. When Lynceus offers Hypermnestra the cup of wine to seal their union, she is reminded of blood and refuses to drink. Danaus threatens her: both she and Lynceus will die immediately should she betray his plans. To no avail, she pleads with her father for mercy. She has no choice but to leave the celebrations. Lynceus goes to follow her, but Danaus prevents him from doing so. The drinking, dancing and merrymaking continue. Finally Hypermnestra’s sisters retire with their husbands to the bridal chambers.

Act IV

A gallery leading to Hypermestra’s apartments and those of her sisters.

Hypermnestra begs her father to show mercy, but Danaus remains unyielding. He demands her obedience. Hypermnestra meets Lynceus in private. She tells him they must part, and he must flee for his life. But he does not understand and accuses her of betraying him. Hypermnestra, paralysed with fear, is on the point of explaining, but just then her sisters begin to carry out their bloody conspiracy and terrible cries of agony are heard. Hypermnestra urges Lynceus to flee, then she faints.

Act V

Same setting as before.

Hypermnestra regains consciousness. She fears that Lynceus has been caught and killed. Danaus comes, seeking proof that she has slain her husband, and she realises that Lynceus has managed to escape. Danaus is beside himself with anger. In obedience to their father, the Danaids set out to find and kill Lynceus. Lynceus attacks the palace with an army, slaughtering the Danaids. Trapped, Danaus decides to kill his daughter, but Lynceus’s faithful companion Pelagus saves Hypermnestra and slays her father. It grows dark, there is a storm; the palace, struck by lightning, is destroyed and engulfed in flames. Lynceus flees with Hypermnestra and his men.

The scene changes to the underworld, under a constant hail of fire. Danaus is seen chained to a rock, with a vulture preying on his bloody entrails. Some of the Danaids, chained together in groups, are tormented by demons and devoured by serpents, while others, pursued by furies, run frantically about the stage screaming. The demons promise them all everlasting torture.

    Person - 1
  • SALIERI, Antonio (1750-1825)
  • Work - 1
  • Danaïdes, Les (Du Roullet & Tschudi / Salieri)