Topic: 091) Wunder der Heliane 1992
Das Wunder der Heliane is set an unnamed totalitarian state in an unknown era.
The cruel ruler exercises his power the over the land. The Ruler suffers because he is unable to win the love of his wife Heliane. Since he is unhappy, he will not tolerate his subjects living in happiness. A young Stranger has recently arrived in the land and was bringing the people joy; as a result he was arrested and sentenced to death. He will be executed at sunrise. The ruler visits him in order to learn the reason for his actions. The Stranger pleads for mercy but the Ruler is intent on his death. However, he agrees to allow the Stranger to remain unchained this last night of his life. When her husband has left, Heliane comes to the cell to comfort the Stranger. As she speaks to the Stranger and realizes his goodness, her feelings of pity and sadness turn to love. The Stranger tells Heliane how beautiful she is and she reveals to him her long golden hair. She then exposes her bare feet and then, finally, stands completely naked before him. The stranger asks Heliane to give herself to him on his last night of life, but she refuses and goes to the chapel to pray for the Stranger. The ruler returns to the cell, proposing that if the Stranger can teach Heliane to love the Ruler then he will offer him his life and Heliane. Heliane returns, still naked. She is shocked to meet her husband in the cell. In anger, he orders the Stranger's death and Heliane's trial.
The ruler and his messenger (also his former lover whom he has rejected) await the coming of the executioner and the members of the high court. Heliane will be tried when the six judges and the blind Chief Justice arrive. The Ruler accuses her of adultery with the Stranger. Heliane cannot deny that she stood naked before the Stranger , but she insists that she gave herself to him in thought only. The Ruler presses his dagger into her breast telling her she should kill herself. The Stranger is brought in to testify but he will not speak, wanting to be left alone for a few moments with Heliane. He kisses her and then takes the dagger and kills himself, making it impossible for the Ruler to prove that Heliane is lying. The Ruler dismisses the court and tells Heliane that she will be on trial before God: if she is innocent, as she claims, she must bring the Stranger back to life. In shock she agrees to undergo the trial.
A crowd has assembled outside out side of the Ruler's palace. The Judges together with the Chief Justice arrive to witness Heliane's attempt to bring the Stranger back to life. The messenger stirs up the crowd against Heliane as the test begins. She cries, she will not lie, admitting that she did love the young Stranger. When the ruler sees her cry he wants to save her, but only on the condition that she will be his. Heliane resents her husband more than ever and she refuses this last offer for life. The crowd drags her away to the stake where she will die. Suddenly all are shocked as thunder crashes. Just as suddenly, stars begin to appear in the sky and everyone is amazed to see the young Stranger's corpse rise, transfigured from the funeral bier. By some miracle he is alive. Heliane breaks away from the shocked crowd and runs into the arms of this Stranger whom she loves. In a fit of rage the Ruler plunges his sword into her breast. The Stranger offers a blessing to the people and banishes the ruler whose power is broken. The Stranger takes Heliane in his arms. United in their love they rise to heaven.
Performers: Nicolai Gedda (Tenor), Hartmut Welker (Tenor), Martin Petzold (Tenor),
Anna Tomowa-Sintow (Soprano), René Pape (Bass), Ralph Eschrig (Tenor),
Reinhart Gröschel (Tenor), Gotthold Schwarz (Baritone), John David De Haan (Tenor),
Julian Metzger (Baritone), Andreas Scholz (Bass), Josef Becker (Bass),
Regine Gebhardt (Soprano), Regina Schudel (Soprano), Reinhild Runkel (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor: John Mauceri
Orchestra/Ensemble: Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Berlin Radio Chorus
Date of Recording: 02/1992
Venue: Jesus Christus Kirche, Dahlem, Berlin