Opera

Die Frau ohne Schatten

The Woman Without a Shadow
Richard Strauss (1864 – 1949)
Sung in German
Opera in three acts | Libretto: Hugo von Hofmannsthal
First performance: 1919 in Vienna

Andrea Baker, Erika Sunnegårdh, Thomas Piffka, Statisterie
Photo: Karl & Monika Forster
Andrea Baker
Photo: Karl & Monika Forster
Gloria Rehm, Erika Sunnegårdh
Photo: Karl & Monika Forster
Nicola Beller Carbone, Oliver Zwarg, Erika Sunnegårdh, Andrea Baker, Jugendchor
Photo: Karl & Monika Forster
Erika Sunnegårdh
Photo: Karl & Monika Forster
Erika Sunnegårdh, Andrea Baker, Nicola Beller Carbone
Photo: Karl & Monika Forster
Erika Sunnegårdh, Thomas Piffka, Andrea Baker
Photo: Karl & Monika Forster
Nicola Beller Carbone, Oliver Zwarg
Photo: Karl & Monika Forster
Nicola Beller Carbone, Oliver Zwarg
Photo: Karl & Monika Forster
Andrea Baker, Erika Sunnegårdh
Photo: Karl & Monika Forster
Nicola Beller Carbone, Nicola Beller Carbone
Photo: Karl & Monika Forster
Erika Sunnegårdh, Andrea Baker
Photo: Karl & Monika Forster
Erika Sunnegårdh
Photo: Karl & Monika Forster
Thomas Piffka, Erika Sunnegårdh, Jugendchormitglied
Photo: Karl & Monika Forster
Erika Sunnegårdh, Gloria Rehm
Photo: Karl & Monika Forster

It was to be “a magic fairytale...the most beautiful opera in existence”, according to its creators, Strauss and Hofmannsthal; “our greatest work together”. The premise: “two worlds, two pairs of beings and two interwoven conflicts”; “a multi-coloured spectacle complete with palace, hut, priests, boats, torches, caves and tunnels, choruses, children”; and “the whole idea would, roughly speaking, stand in the same relation to ‘Zauberflöte’ as ‘Rosenkavalier’ does to ‘Figaro’”.
 
The Empress is half human: she was captured by the Emperor in the form of a gazelle. She assumed human shape and he married her, but she has no shadow. This symbolizes her inability to bear children. Keikobad has decreed that unless the Empress gains a shadow before the end of the twelfth moon, she will be reclaimed by her father and the Emperor will turn to stone. The Dyer’s Wife, a capricious, selfish woman, has secretly sworn not to have children (against her husband’s desire) and criticises the Dyer for his political correctness and loving nature. She would make the perfect victim for the Empress’s problem since she seems to have no need for her shadow. But can one really build one’s own happiness on the injustice and misfortune of others?
 
The orchestration is larger than ever before, unsurpassed even for Strauss operas. It is a score shimmering with depth, density and tension between human and fairytale worlds, realism and romance. The fairytale concludes with a tearful smile, a sort of immortalization of life against the backdrop of a cruel World War which claimed innumerable victims - and the afterglow of a great operatic tradition.

Cast

Conductor Vassilis Christopoulos, Eckehard Stier
Original Production Uwe Eric Laufenberg
Revival Director Magdalena Weingut
Set Designer Gisbert Jäkel
Costume Designer Antje Sternberg
Chorus Master Albert Horne
Lighting Designer Andreas Frank
Video Gérard Naziri
Dramaturgy Regine Palmai
Youth Chorus Direction Dagmar Howe
Emperor Richard Furman
Empress Vida Mikneviciute, Erika Sunnegårdh
Dyer's Wife Nicola Beller Carbone
Barak, the Dyer Oliver Zwarg
Nurse Andrea Baker
Messenger of Keikobad Thomas de Vries
Voice of a Falcon / Guardian of the Threshold Stella An
Hunchback Benedikt Nawrath
One-Eyed Man Alexander Knight
One-Armed Man Benjamin Russell
Apparition of a Youth Aaron Cawley
Voice from Above Karolina Ferencz
Chor & Jugendchor des Hessischen Staatstheaters Wiesbaden, Hessisches Staatsorchester Wiesbaden