The operetta, which parodies Wagner's Ring cycle, and through it, German society and the government of Kaiser Wilhelm, premiered in Vienna in 1904 and in Berlin a year later. It soon ran into violent opposition from German nationalists and faded from view until the 1990s.
Straus went on to write the popular Ein Walzertraum (A Waltz Dream) and Der tapfere Soldat (The Chocolate Soldier); he later moved to France and then to the United States and wrote the scores for a number of films.
The Merry Niebelungs will be heard in New York on January 28 and 29, in English translation, in a production presented by Dicapo Opera Theatre. The cast includes Bill Van Horn as Straus himself, Dustin Tucker as Fritz Oliven, Dicapo general director Michael Capasso as Field Marshal Baron Franz Conrad von Hotzendorff, and conductor Pacien Mazzagatti as Hermann Scherchen.
For ticket information, call 212-288-9438, extension 10. The Dicapo Opera Theatre is located at 184 East 76th Street in Manhattan.