The poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal and the composer Richard Strauss were the ideal artistic couple at the beginning of the 20th century. The first was the fine symbolist analyst of society; the second, the brilliant musician and conductor whose musical language apparently knew no expressive boundaries at all. Of all Strauss’ works, "Die Frau ohne Schatten" is considered the most demanding, dense and richest score. Strauss himself regarded it as his most important work throughout his life. The libretto was completed in 1914, shortly before the outbreak of World War I, and Strauss’ completed the work’s composition in 1915. The first performance took place after the end of the war in 1919. In this way, the opera reflects the crisis of its time, but at the same time it traces a line to our world and poses the central question of the responsibility of the world of today for the world of tomorrow.
The grand, fairy-tale plot focuses on two couples with contrasting lives: The Emperor and Empress on one hand – he disconnected from humanity, she the daughter of a spirit prince who must first earn her humanity; the Dyer and the Dyer’s Wife on the other, working through all the ups and downs of life. Being the Woman Without a Shadow (which is the title of the work in German: Die Frau ohne Schatten), the Empress is a spirit being who, in order to become human, must first entice the Dyer’s Wife to sell her own shadow. If this does not succeed within three days, the emperor will be turned into stone. The magical bargain almost seems to succeed, but both the Empress and the Dyer’s Wife experience temptation and trial arising from this transaction, recognise their responsibility and then actively resist the deal, although it seems to be inevitable.
Marc Albrecht is one of the most successful conductors on the current opera scene. He is in particular demand internationally as a conductor of the late Romantic repertoire. Katharina Thoma is a director who is particularly known for her fine psychological penetration of opera material.
CAST AND CREATIVES
Musikalische Leitung Marc Albrecht / Inszenierung Katharina Thoma / Bühne Johannes Leiacker / Kostüme Irina Bartels / Video Georg Lendorff / Licht Nicol Hungsberg / Chorleitung Alfred Chen, Rustam Samedov / Dramaturgie Stephan Steinmetz /