Richard Strauss
1864 - 1949

Opera in three acts
Libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal
First performed October 10th 1919, Vienna State Opera

Sung in german with German surtitles
Duration: c. 4hrs 10 mins, incl. 2 intervals

About the Piece

The libretto Hugo von Hofmannsthal wrote in 1911, a time when he was deeply immersed in the world of arabic fairy tales, was for a »fantastic opera«. These influences colour the three act opera, which received its world premiere at the Vienna State Opera in 1919.
After a year of marriage the Empress still does not cast a shadow; she is infertile and must therefore return to the spirit world, from whence she came before entering the world of mankind. Her nurse encourages her to persuade the dyer's wife to sell her shadow but when she sees the suffering this brings to the poor couple the Empress decides she would rather submit to her fate rather than be the cause of such misery. This sacrifice proves to be her redemption and leads to a wonderfully happy ending. Rooted in a world of dreams Die Frau ohne Schatten was written, to a large extent, at a time in which the world was dominated by World War I. Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal began thinking about working on a fourth joint opera in 1911. The score was completed six years later. The world premiere in October 1919 at the Vienna State Opera was not received very well; probably because of the strange imagery and interwoven threads in the story. Hofmannsthal combined subjects from Oriental and Occidental literature, including the Old Testament, Goethe's Faust and fairy tales from the East into the story about the daughter of the King of the Spirit World who marries a human Emperor. If, after a year, she is still not able to cast a shadow her husband will be turned to stone. The poor Dyer's wife is eventually persuaded to sells her shadow, against her husband's wishes, in return for the promise of a better life… Christof Nel's production grips you from the first moment. His treatment of the characters is extraordinary. This, and Sebastian Weigle's masterly conducting of the complicated, rich score, played a significant role in Oper Frankfurt being voted »Opera House of the Year« - Sebastian Weigle was also voted »Conductor of the Year« - in 2003.

Sunday 26.10.2014

Further performances:
30.10.2014  | 06.11.2014  |
09.11.2014  | 16.11.2014


Sebastian Weigle
Christof Nel
Revival rehearsed by
Orest Tichonov
Scenic Analysis
Martina Jochem
Stage Designer
Jens Kilian
Costume Designer
Ilse Welter
Lighting Designer
Olaf Winter
Norbert Abels
Chorus Master
Tilman Michael

Die Kaiserin
Tamara Wilson
Terje Stensvold
Seine Frau
Sabine Hogrefe
Die Amme
Tanja Ariane Baumgartner
Der Kaiser
Burkhard Fritz
Der Einäugige
Franz Mayer
Der Einarmige
Björn Bürger
Der Bucklige
Hans-Jürgen Lazar
Der Geisterbote
Dietrich Volle
Erscheinung des Jünglings
Michael Porter *
Ein Hüter der Schwelle des Tempels / Stimme des Falken
Brenda Rae
Simme von oben
Katharina Magiera
Die Stimmen der Wächter der Stadt
Franz Mayer
Dietrich Volle
Björn Bürger

Oper Frankfurt's Orchestra and Chorus

* Member of the Opera Studio

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