Opera Doesn't Sit in Shadows

By Gowen, Bill | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), November 18, 2007 | Go to article overview

Opera Doesn't Sit in Shadows


Gowen, Bill, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Bill Gowen Daily Herald Classical Music Critic

"Die Frau ohne Schatten"

Where: Ardis Krainik Theatre, Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive.

When: Additional performances at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 26 and 30; Dec. 4, 8, 12 and 20; 2 p.m. Dec. 16.

Tickets: Call (312) 332-2244, Ext. 5600, or visit lyricopera.org, for availability and reservations; major credit cards accepted.

At a glance:

Opera in three acts by Richard Strauss, with libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Paul Curran, stage director and choreographer; Kevin Knight, set and costume designer; Donald Nally, chorus master; Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis.

Starring As

Deborah Voigt Empress

Christine Brewer Dyer's Wife

Robert Dean Smith Emperor

Franz Hawlata Barak

Jill Grove Nurse

With Quinn Kelsey, Stacey Tappan, Daniel Sutin, Andrew Funk, John Easterlin, Stacey Tappan, Andriana Chuchman, Elizabeth De Shong. Bryan Griffin and Meredith Arwady.

"Die Frau ohne Schatten," which opened Friday night, is back at Lyric Opera of Chicago after a 23-year absence, and it's a most welcome return.

This is a stunning, visually creative new production designed by Kevin Knight who, along with stage director Paul Curran, are making auspicious Lyric Opera debuts.

Richard Strauss (1864-1949) wrote great music in many genres, but the half-dozen operas in which he collaborated with librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal were the jewels of his musical output.

They include the sublime "Der Rosenkavalier," the chamber opera "Ariadne auf Naxos" and the one-act powerhouse "Elektra," the latter based on Sophocles' tragedy.

"Die Frau ohne Schatten" ("The Woman without a Shadow"), premiered in 1919, a decade after "Elektra," and is the most musically complex of the Strauss-Hofmannsthal operas.

An allegorical fantasy on the meaning of life and family, it's quite special. The title refers to a quest by the Empress (who lives in a spiritual realm) to find her shadow, or else her husband (the Emperor) will be turned to stone. …

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