Die Frau ohne Schatten
Director: Karina Fiebich
Distributor: C Major Entertainment
Length: 3 h 40 min.
16:9 shot in 1080i HD | stereo & 5.1 surround sound
© 2011, a BFMI production for Unitel in co-production with ORF / 3sat and NHK in cooperation with Salzburg Festival and Classica
‘Thiele­mann tri­umphs!’ (FAZ) One of the high­light’s of Salzburg Fest­iv­al 2011: Richard Strauss’ op­era ‘Die Frau ohne Schat­ten’ dir­ec­ted by Chris­tof Loy and con­duc­ted by Chris­ti­an Thiele­mann. The high-class cast, amongst them Anne Schwanewilms as ‘Kais­er­in’ and Evelyn Herl­itzi­us as ‘Färber­in’, as well as the Vi­enna Phil­har­mon­ics were highly ac­claimed by crit­ics. Die Frau ohne Schat­ten is not per­formed very of­ten be­cause of the de­mands it makes on cast­ing scenery, and or­ches­tra. Fur­ther­more, on Thiele­mann’s in­sist­ence, this per­form­ance is un­cut.

Ex­cerpts taken of Jens F. Laurson re­view, Au­gust 30, 2011 for ‘Seen and Heard In­ter­na­tion­al’:

[...] One wo­man — the shad­ow-less empress — can­not bear chil­dren but wants to, in or­der to be­come truly hu­man. An­oth­er would gladly give up her right (or abil­ity) to bear chil­dren in ex­change for the al­leged liberty that comes with that. Their dra­mat­ic­ally rather less rel­ev­ant men are act­ive bystand­ers. A Nurse, the Empress’ guard­i­an — and creature of both worlds, the hu­man world of the dyer Barak and his wife and the neth­er-realm of Em­per­or and Empress — is the cata­lyst and ne­far­i­ous schemer. [...]

Re­ac­tion­ary — old fash­ioned, counter to our zeit­geist — might be the form of Die Frau ohne Schat­ten. But the ex­pres­sion it­self, of the de­sire for love, mar­riage, and fam­ily as the nuc­le­us of life, ex­pressed not the least in child­bear­ing, is not re­ac­tion­ary. It does not fit eas­ily in­to a time dom­in­ated by nar­ciss­ism and ‘self-ac­tu­al­iz­a­tion’ — a time where chil­dren are deemed a bur­den or sac­ri­fice, a mani­fest­a­tion of one’s own ego, or a ter­rit­ori­al claim on a wo­man, an ab­dic­a­tion of the fully lived life, rather than its noblest goal and ful­fill­ment. But the de­sire it­self is and will al­ways re­main a beau­ti­ful thing. [...]
Chris­tof Loy strips away the im­me­di­ate­ness of the sub­ject and in­tro­duces dis­tance by go­ing the route of op­era-per­form­ance-with­in-op­era-per­form­ance. He sets the story like someone who does not be­lieve in the emo­tion that lies at the heart of Hof­mannsth­al’s nos­tal­gia-laced text, ex­cept on a su­per­fi­cial level. He de­scribes and cir­cum­nav­ig­ates the core without feel­ing or touch­ing it. The nar­rat­ive is tied to the first com­plete* re­cord­ing of Die Frau ohne Schat­ten with Karl Böhm in the winter of 1955 for Decca. Set (ana­chron­ist­ic­ally) in Vi­enna’s Sophi­ensaal, the space for many oth­er very fam­ous Decca op­era pro­duc­tions in Vi­enna, it fo­cuses on the stor­ies of the per­form­ing sing­ers. [...]

‘A shin­ing hour, a mo­ment of glory’, trum­peted Vi­enna’s Kur­i­er after the double premiere of Richard Strauss’ “Die Frau ohne Schat­ten” at the Salzburg Fest­iv­al: the premiere of a stun­ning pro­duc­tion, and that of Chris­ti­an Thiele­mann as op­era con­duct­or at the Salzburg Fest­iv­al. True to the Salzburg Fest­iv­al’s tra­di­tion, this pro­duc­tion fea­tures a line-up of great Strauss sing­ers, a ‘high-caliber vo­cal cast that provides the greatest Strauss bliss’ (Frank­furter Allge­meine Zei­tung). Next to the ‘lu­min­ous’ (Frank­furter Rundschau) Anne Schwanewilms as the Empress, the ‘mas­ter­ful’ Steph­en Gould as Em­per­or, and the ‘splen­did’ (Die Presse) bass-bari­tone Wolfgang Koch as Barak, Mi­chaela Schuster and Evelyn Herl­itzi­us as Amme and Barak’s wife ‘raise their fig­ures to genu­ine prot­ag­on­ists with their dra­mat­ic verve’ (Süddeutsche Zei­tung).
Anne Schwanewilms, Empress
Steph­en Gould, Em­per­or
Evelyn Herl­itzi­us, Dyer’s Wife
Wolfgang Koch, Barak the Dyer
Mi­chaela Schuster, Nurse
Rachel Fren­kel, The Voice of the Fal­con

Wien­er Phil­har­monik­er
Chris­ti­an Thiele­mann, con­duct­or
Konzer­tver­ein­i­gung Wien­er Staat­so­per­n­chor
Thomas Lang, chor­us mas­ter
Chris­toph Loy, stage dir­ect­or