Academic journal article Notes

Richard Strauss and His Heroines

Academic journal article Notes

Richard Strauss and His Heroines

Article excerpt

Richard Strauss and His Heroines. DVD. Directed by Thomas von Steinaecker. [Halle/Saale, Germany]: Arthaus Musik, 2014. 102 181. $22.49.

In the film Richard Strauss and His Heroines, German filmmaker Thomas von Steinaecker presents Richard Strauss (1864-1949) as a composer shrouded in enigma and contradictions; a man with a secret. Steinaecker suggests that an examination of Strauss's relationships with the women in his life and the operatic heroines he created, including Elektra, Salome, and the Marschallin, provides the key that unlocks the secret of the composer and his artistic inspiration. Not surprisingly, one of the film's primary focuses is Strauss's wife of over 55 years, Pauline de Ahna, an acerbic soprano who starred in his first opera, Guntram, as well as Alice Grab, his Jewish daughter-in-law and secretary.

Biographical details and personal stories about Strauss and his family are set against a backdrop of Germany's cultural history from the onset of the twentieth century to World War II. Highlights from Strauss's operas and other works are interspersed in the narrative in an attempt to demonstrate connections among the changing status of women in Germany, Strauss's personal life, and his compositions. Much of this information is conveyed in the form of interviews. Christoph Wagner-Trenkwitz, who acts as dramatic advisor at the Volksoper Vienna and has published extensively on Strauss, as well as noted scholar of German culture and literary criticism, Barbara Vinken, contribute significantly to the historical account. In the first half of the film, the rarely-performed Vier Lieder, Op. 27 is examined as a wedding gift to de Ahna and an emblem of the composer's love for his new wife. In the first decade of their marriage, Strauss and de Ahna toured widely, performing Lieder programs. Through his wife, Strauss discovered the female voice and learned to compose for it. Salome and Elektra are offered as prime examples of the strong, independent, and sometimes volatile modern woman that Strauss admired at the turn of the century (not unlike de Ahna). The Marschallin from Der Rosenkaxmlier, probably Strauss's most famous opera, is lauded as an example of an older, more complex female operatic character. Excerpts from a number of recent productions of the featured operas are also included. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.