Magazine article Gramophone

R Strauss: Die Frau Ohne Schatten

Magazine article Gramophone

R Strauss: Die Frau Ohne Schatten

Article excerpt

R Strauss [DVD-V] [Br] Die Frau ohne Schatten Avgust Amonov ten                       Emperor Mlada Khudoley sop                      Empress Olga Sergeeva sop                  Barak's Wife Edem Umerov bar                           Barak Olga Savova mez                           Nurse Evgeney Ulanov bar             Spirit Messenger Mariinsky Chorus and Orchestra / Valery Gergiev Stage director Jonathan Kent Video director Henning Kasten 

Mariinsky [F] [2] [DVD] MAR0543; [F] [Br] MAR0544 (3h 24' * NTSC * 16:9 * 1080i * DTS-HD MA5.1, DTS5.1 & PCM stereo * 0 * s) Recorded live. December 2011

This Die Frau differs from some earlier opera recordings from the Mariinsky label in not calling upon the services of international singers: the cast is all Russian, the words they sing, alas, only part German. The international element is Jonathan Kent's production, which pits dream-like orientalism in the spiritual world against a modern, determinedly tawdry washing machine-lined dwelling for Barak. Projections are used to conjure up some sense of the supernatural but many of the magical moments are avoided, and Kent runs out of ideas in the final act. Gergiev also seems in a rush in Act 3, which is the most heavily cut (although we are treated to the dubious pleasure of having all of the Empress's spoken monologue, which poor Mlada Khudoley does her best with). Act 1 is uncut; Act 2 is marred by a nasty snip in the final scene.

There's a lot of musical quality on show, not least from the virtuoso Mariinsky Orchestra, and Gergiev clearly knows how the piece goes, even if he favours speedy efficiency over warmth. …

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