Strauss opera: Baden-Baden: Mammoth opera “Frau ohne Schatten” is performed

Strauss opera: Baden-Baden: Mammoth opera “Frau ohne Schatten” is performed

Strauss opera
Baden-Baden: Mammoth opera “Frau ohne Schatten” is performed

Chief conductor Kirill Petrenko leads through the program.  Photo: Fabian Sommer/dpa

Chief conductor Kirill Petrenko leads through the program. photo

© Fabian Sommer/dpa

It is considered to be as fascinating as it is difficult: “The Woman Without a Shadow”. Now the Baden-Baden Easter Festival is venturing into the opera by Richard Strauss. And with the Berlin Philharmonic.

For the tenth Easter Festival, the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden is putting on the most lavish opera production in its history: the start on April 1 (6 p.m.) is the new production of the Strauss opera “Die Frau ohne Schatten” with the Berlin Philharmonic and its chief conductor Kirill Petrenko on the program. “It’s a mammoth challenge for everyone,” said Petrenko on Thursday evening. He is already accompanying the scenic rehearsals in the largest German opera house with 2,500 seats in Baden-Baden.

“The Woman Without a Shadow” is considered one of Richard Strauss’s most enigmatic and fascinating operas: the Emperor’s wife needs a shadow to save her husband from petrification and to be able to have children. For this she has to buy shade and fertility from a poor dyer. The focus is on the question: Can you build your happiness in life on the misfortune of others?

According to the award-winning director Lydia Steier, the staging of the fairy tale is a “monster task”. According to her, the piece with the various levels and cuts is actually considered “unstageable”. An exciting story is to be told to the audience, while the full range of the orchestra is challenged.

“You need the best votes for the five superlative games,” said Petrenko. The following can be seen in the leading roles: Elza van den Heever (The Empress), Clay Hilley (Emperor), Michaela Schuster (The Nurse), Miina-Liisa Värelä (The Dyer) and Wolfgang Koch (Barak the Dyer).

The melodrama is based on a text by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. It was written before the First World War, but was not performed until after. Petrenko sees current parallels: Even today, a “completely senseless war” is being experienced again.

As part of the Easter Festival, the Berliner Philharmoniker are focusing on other composers from musical Vienna around 1900, including Gustav Mahler with his 5th Symphony (April 2nd and 3rd) and Richard Strauss’ “Four Last Songs” on the Easter weekend. In the same program, Petrenko conducts Strauss’ tone poem “A Hero’s Life”.

The Easter Festival Baden-Baden will be artistically realigned from 2026: The Berlin Philharmonic will then move back to Salzburg. One goes with “a laughing and a crying eye”, according to a spokesman for the orchestra. In three years it will play again at the Salzburg Festival, which the then chief conductor Herbert von Karajan founded in 1967 with the Philharmoniker. Despite the return to the “old tradition”, the relationship with Baden-Baden should not be severed, where “three fantastic festivals” are still to be organized.

Easter Festival Baden-Baden Festspielhaus Baden-Baden


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