Alkmene (opera)

Alkmene, op. 36, (Alcmene) is an opera in three acts, with music and libretto by Giselher Klebe. Klebe based the libretto on Amphitryon by Heinrich von Kleist, which in turn was based on Molière's play of the same name. The composer dedicated the work to his mother, the violinist Gertrud Klebe.

The opera was commissioned for the opening of the current building of the Deutsche Oper Berlin[1] where it premiered on 25 September 1961, the second production in that house.


RoleVoice typePremiere cast, 25 September 1961
Jupiter baritone Thomas Stewart[2]
Mercury bass
Theban field commander
wife of Amphitryon
soprano Evelyn Lear[2]
servant to Amphitryon
bass/spoken part
wife to Sosias
coloratura soprano
A commander bass
Two colonels tenor, bass


The setting is mythical Thebes.

Jupiter enlists Mercury to plan a new seduction of a mortal, specifically Alkmene, wife of the Theban field commander Amphitryon. Amphitryon is in the conflict of Thebes against Athens. Because Jupiter cannot present himself in his true form to Alkmene, he chooses to appear as Amphitryon. The god appears to Alkmene and makes love with her, with Alkmene thinking that this is her husband who has returned early from battle.

The next morning, the servant Sosias announces Thebes' victory over Athens and the return of the Theban army. He sees a double of himself, who is actually Mercury, who acted as guard the night prior. Confusion follows. Alkmene then sees Amphytrion for what she thinks is the second time so soon after his recent return. Amphitryon becomes suspicious of his wife's fidelity, and summons witnesses to attest that he did not leave the army camp during the night. Alkmene is pained at these suspicions. However, Jupiter appears and tells Alkmene that her partner the night before was no mortal, but the supreme god himself.

The army commanders appear, and they and the Thebans see two Amphitryons. At first, they believe Jupiter to be the Amphitryon. However, the god reveals his true identity, and also tells Alkmene that she has conceived a child, and he will be named Hercules. Alkmeme faints. Jupiter leaves in his sun carriage. Alkmene awakens in her husband's arms, the two of them reconciled.


  1. Erik Levi: "Klebe, Giselher", Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed 2 April 2008)
  2. 1 2 "Double Triumph". Time. 20 October 1961. Retrieved 28 September 2007.

External links

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