Richard Strauss

Die Frau ohne Schatten

Premiere Opera

Not all that many important masterpieces have had their world première at the opera house on the Ring. Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s Die Frau ohne Schatten, is one of the few exceptions in this regard. On 10 October 1919 the opera that Strauss regarded as his “last romantic opera” first saw the light of day at the Wiener Staatsoper; since then, it has been a fixture on international schedules. While they were still working on the piece, the composer said enthusiastically of the libretto: “Unbelievably noble, superb, mature and interesting, with magnificent dramatic, moral problems, marvellous scenic events.” In terms of the music and musical drama, Strauss took up some of Wagner’s ideas and expanded them with his own. Mozart’s The Magic Flute was the inspiration for the fairy-tale ambience and the tests which the heroes must undergo.

25 May 2019
Saturday
17:30 - 22:00
2 intermissions
Prices Z add to calendar Werkeinführung 30 Minuten vor der Vorstellung im Gustav Mahler-Saal

Cast | 25.05.2019

Conductor Christian Thielemann
Director Vincent Huguet
Set design Aurélie Maestre
Costumes Clémence Pernoud
Licht und Video Bertrand Couderc
Dramaturg Louis Geisler
 
Der Kaiser Stephen Gould
Die Kaiserin Camilla Nylund
Die Amme Evelyn Herlitzius
Geisterbote Sebastian Holecek
Barak Wolfgang Koch
Sein Weib Nina Stemme
 

Details

Background

While out hunting, the Emperor shoots a gazelle. She is transformed into a young woman; he falls in love with her and marries her. She is the daughter of the Spirit King Keikobad. However, she must cast a shadow within twelve months or the Emperor will turn to stone and the Empress will have to return to her father. Finally, there are just three days left.

Synopsis of the opera

The Emperor is unaware of the impending danger and leaves to go hunting again. Accompanied by the Nurse, the Empress secretly sets off for the human world in order to acquire a shadow. They stop at the home of the Dyer, Barak, and his Wife. The couple live in poverty with Barak’s brothers; they have no children. The Dyer‘s Wife, dissatisfied with her life and her husband, allows herself to be seduced by the promise of riches and is willing to surrender her shadow to the Empress. But if she does this, the Dyer’s Wife will never become a mother. Initially she desires a handsome young man, conjured up by the Nurse, but her conscience prevents her from actually betraying Barak, who loves her more than anything else. Troubled, she confesses to him what has happened. For Barak, whose sole goal in life is attaining the happiness of a large, close-knit family, his world collapses. He feels a desire to commit murder. At that moment, their world is swallowed up, and the two find themselves separated, in a stone vault. The couple are overcome by remorse, they once again confess their love for each other. For his part, the Emperor believes that the Empress has been unfaithful to him and wishes her dead. However, even in his wrath he cannot kill his wife. The Empress realizes that she can only attain happiness through the misfortune of others – of Barak and his Wife. She decides against her own well-being and does not drink the magic water that will secure her the shadow of the Dyer’s Wife and save the Emperor from being turned to stone. She has passed the trial to become human, as she has now shown empathy and compassion for others and placed her own personal happiness after that of others. In becoming human she has acquired a shadow – and the Emperor, whom she loves, is saved, as are the Dyer and his Wife. The triumphant closing exultation is softly echoed by the voices of the (as yet)

Unborn Children:
Father, nothing threatens you,
See, Mother, the terror
That led you astray
Is already receding.
Was there ever a feast
Where in secret
We were both the guests
And also the Hosts?

Upcoming events

10 October 2019
Thursday
18:00 - 22:30
2 intermissions
Prices G add to calendar
14 October 2019
Monday
18:00 - 22:30
2 intermissions
Prices G add to calendar
18 October 2019
Friday
18:00 - 22:30
2 intermissions
Prices G add to calendar

Sponsors

This production is made possible thanks to the support of