Penthesilea is a tragedy by Heinrich von Kleist that is based on the mythological Amazonian queen of the same name. The plot follows the battle between the Greeks and the Amazons and the ensuing love between Achilles and Penthesilea -- a love that, in Kleist's version, ends in the murder-suicide of both characters. The play, which was written in 1808, was deemed "unplayable" by Wolfgang von Goethe for its almost gratuitous use of sex and violence in an effort to push the boundaries of tragedy to its limits. Indeed, Kleist's play did not meet Goethe's sensible standards for drama, and it was rarely staged until a revival of interest in Kleist's work brought the play back from obscurity. The play was also adapted into an opera by Swiss composer Othmar Schoeck, which premiered in 1927.
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