Once upon a time, August Enna (1859-1939) was the best-known Danish composer outside of Denmark with a string of operatic successes to his credit. The sleeve notes to this enterprising recording of his Kleopatra of 1894 would have us believe it was his hyper-Romantic Straussian excesses that would cause him to fall out of favour in the 20th century – that and the fact he seems to have been a bit of a bastard. However, a listen to this rather long-winded opera on an unattractively sexist tale by L. Rider Haggard suggests other reasons may have contributed to his decline, factors like lack of consistent inspiration and inability to spot that less might equal more being chief among them.

Kleopatra

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