Daphne comes from one of the most controversial (read: embarrassing) periods of Strauss’ life, when he continued to compose under the Nazi regime, rather than taking a principled stand (or moving away from Germany). For Strauss’ Daphne at the Arcola Theatre, Dalston, director and conductor José Manuel Gandia took Strauss’ discomfiting collaboration as the starting point for his production concept. However, Gandia’s preoccupations with Strauss didn’t capture the essence of Daphne as an opera. This came through far more articulately when Apollo (John Upperton) kissed Daphne: a moment at which Daphne is overwhelmed not by fear or horror, but by a profound, shattering sadness. The music, and Justine Viani’s superb control of movement and gesture here, conveyed a truly heartbreaking betrayal of innocent trust. This is the real point of Daphne: a pointed, proud refusal to cooperate with the world.
- Excellent article on Strauss’ Daphne by Tim Ashley, The Guardian, May 2002, explaining the opera’s history and context in the life of Strauss
- Original myth of Daphne as told by Ovid: Metamorphoses I, lines 438 ff.