Cleopatra's Night

Cleopatra's Night

Cleopatra's Night

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Cleopatra's Night is a short opera in two acts by American composer Henry Kimball Hadley. Its libretto is by Alice Leal Pollock based on a story by French author Théophile Gautier. The opera premiered at the Metropolitan Opera on January 31, 1920. The opera was revived the following season, and was broadcast on NBC radio in 1929.

Cleopatra's Night is written in an eclectic late romantic style, influenced both by the dramatic lyricism of the verismo movement and the rich orchestral approach employed by Wagner and Richard Strauss.

The opera's first production was designed by Norman Bel Geddes. Frances Alda sang the title role, while tenor Orville Harrold sang the role of Meïamoun. Genarro Papi conducted the premiere, though Hadley took the baton for the sixth and final performance of the season, becoming the first American composer to conduct his own opera at the Met. The opera was brought back the following season for three further performances, again a first for an American opera. Critical reception was generally good, with Henry T. Finck proclaiming it the best of ten American operas that had so far appeared at the Met.



The first act opens beside Cleopatra's bath in a spacious garden near the Nile river. As the curtain rises, distant Egyptians are heard chanting a prayer for rain. Cleopatra's favored maids Iras and Mardion enter. Iras notes that Mardion is very pale. Mardion admits that she is hopelessly in love with Meïamoun, a lion hunter,...
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