Die toten Augen

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Die toten Augen (or The Dead Eyes) is an opera (called a Bühnendichtung or 'stage poem' by the composer) with a prologue and one act by Eugen d'Albert to a libretto in German by Hanns Heinz Ewers and Marc Henry (Achille Georges d'Ailly-Vaucheret) after Henry's own 1897 play Les yeux morts.

Performance History[edit]

Die toten Augen was first performed on 5 March 1916 at the Hofoper in Dresden under Fritz Reiner. During the opening run of 7 performances [March - May 1916], the role of Aurelius Galba was sung on two occasions, and that of Der Hirt on four occasions, by Richard Tauber. [Ref. Martin Sollfrank, Richard Tauber, Weltstar der 20 Jahrhundert, 2014, page 35f.]


Role Voice type Premiere Cast, 5 March 1916
(Conductor: Fritz Reiner)
Arcesius, Roman envoy to Jerusalem baritone Friedrich Plaschke
Myrtocle, his blind wife soprano Helena Forti
Aurelius Galba, a Roman captain tenor Curt Taucher
Arsinoe, Myrtocle's slave mezzo-soprano Grete Merrem-Nikisch
Ktesiphar, an Egyptian doctor tenor Robert Büssel
Jesus (Worte Christi) tenor (off-stage)
Mary Magdalen contralto Anka Horvat
Shepherd (der Hirt) tenor
Shepherd boy soprano
Reaper baritone
Rebecca, a Jewish woman soprano
Ruth, a Jewish woman soprano
Esther, a Jewish woman soprano
Sarah, a Jewish woman soprano
A sick woman soprano
Arcesius' male and female slaves, reapers etc.


Set in Biblical times, Die toten Augen is a tragic drama involving a Roman envoy called Arcesius, his beautiful but blind wife Myrtocle and Aurelius Galba, a handsome Roman captain.

A review by Michael Oliver in The Gramophone enlarges upon this: "The plot, set in Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday, concerns the beautiful Myrtocle, blind since birth, who longs for sight mainly so that she may see her deeply loved husband Arcesius, whom she believes to be as handsome as Apollo. She is given her sight by Christ who (his single, off-stage line) predicts that before the sun sets she will curse him. A man as handsome as Apollo indeed appears, and Myrtocle falls into his arms: it is Galba, her husband's friend, who has loved her for years. Arcesius kills him and Myrtocle, realising his love and his suffering, blinds herself again by staring at the sun. The action is framed by a Prologue and Epilogue in which a Shepherd goes in search of a lost lamb and, in the Epilogue, finds it." (http://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/dalbert-die-toten-augen)


There is another recording, deriving from a 1951 Stuttgart radio production, on Cantus Classics CACD 5.00231 F. It is conducted by Walter Born, and the main singers are Marianne Schech, Wolfgang Windgassen, Franz Fehringer and Hetty Plümacher.


  • Amadeus Almanac, accessed 10 November 2008
  • Forbes, Elizabeth (1992), 'Toten Augen, Die' in The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, ed. Stanley Sadie (London) ISBN 0-333-73432-7

External links[edit]