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  • Strauss: Die Frau Ohne Schatten (Opus Arte: OA1072D) [DVD] [2010]
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Strauss: Die Frau Ohne Schatten (Opus Arte: OA1072D) [DVD] [2010]

3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Stephen Gould, Anne Schwanewilms, Michaela Schuster, Wolfgang Koch, Evelyn Herlitzius
  • Format: Classical, Colour, DVD-Video, Widescreen, PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Opus Arte
  • DVD Release Date: 26 Mar. 2012
  • Run Time: 220 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B007DCHZY2
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 121,950 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Already brimming with symbols and transformations, the epic fairytale recounted by Strauss and his librettist Hofmannsthal in Die Frau ohne Schatten acquires a further allegorical dimension in Christoph Loys inventive production for the Salzburg Festival. The central character, the Empress half-spirit, half-human, and unable to bear children until she finds a shadow here becomes a young soprano who makes a voyage of personal and professional discovery as she records the opera. A superb cast fulfils the complex vocal and dramatic demands of the piece while Christian Thielemann and the Vienna Philharmonic rise gloriously to the challenges of Strausss most ambitious and splendid operatic score.


The set is stunning, the acting mostly brilliant and the sheer audacity of it all exhilarating. --The Telegraph

A high-caliber vocal cast that provides the greatest Strauss bliss. --Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Customer Reviews

2.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Stuart Sillitoe on 26 Feb. 2013
Format: DVD
This production from the 2011 Salzburg Festival has a lot going for it, strong cast, fine orchestra and conductor as well as a recognized director, so it's a pity I found it un-engaging and in some respects, boring!
For this production Christof Loy, the director, removes the action from its usual setting, placing it in a drab 1950's recording studio, taking as his inspiration the story of Karl Bohm's recording from the period when he was able to get stars from the Vienna Opera to record the work, un-paid, in an un-heated studio in the middle of winter. However, for me the result is one that leaves me look warm at best, its grey sets and costumes detracting rather than adding to the drama, this is further hampered by the lighting, which at times seems inadequate! It is only from act two that the action begins to unfold in the studio, but by this time the damage is done, and although it tries hard to redeem itself, the production doesn't quite make it. It almost seems as if this is a recession hit production, one which sought to save money on production costs, and as a result, one in which the drama came off worst!
This is a real shame as musically this is a first rate production, all the soloists are excellent, as are the chorus and orchestra. Stephen Gould is a strong Emperor whilst Anne Schwanewilms is a wonderful Empress with a voice that is more than able to convey all the drama of the role, it is just a shame that it is not able to show itself in a setting that is more fitting!
There are two extras, the first a rather limited cast gallery, the second, a documentary in which we see Thielmann rehearsing the opera, neither of these redeem the shortfalls in this production! Yes, Die Frau Ohne Schatten is regarded as the most difficult of Strauss' operas to stage, but for me, this production fails more than most, and some of the audience certainly thought so too, as there are audible `boos' amongst the applause!
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By memyself on 10 Feb. 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I read the reviews and in spite of accepting it was going to be "interesting" nothing quite prepared me for what is the most outrageous self indulgent travesty I have watched for a long time. I have both the Solti and Sawallisch DVD'S as well as two really old terribly reproduced DVD'S with Nilsson/Wennberg (with Swedish subtitles) and Jones/Behrens (French subtitles) - which are still 100 times more engaging in spite of (I cannot stress enough) the most primitive and barely acceptable recordings.
I started watching and lasted half of ACT 1 and then came back to it a day later (unheard of for such a wonderful opera) - I thought I would watch the bonus to get some insite into what was going on. I watched as I feared a self indulgent diatribe particularly by the director (I use the term loosely) Loy about "meaning" and zzzzzzz.
My main gripe other than everything is that having people on stage so disengaged just aimlessly watching, waiting their cue, drinking tea spills over to the audience. Can you imagine how you would feel if the person next to you was texting on their mobile or the one two rows in front was reading their programme while all this high drama was going on? I would suggest you'd be furious but here so many pseudo's are going, "Oh my God, how wonderfully illuminating" - a case of, "The King's New Clothes" I would suggest. Added to that a Nurse looking more like Hilda Baker than the embodiment of evil. Followed by the whole female chorus appearing the same: as if Ms. Baker had cloned not only herself but also her male stooge. Looking into their compact mirrors and smiling at what they saw must have taken some rehearsing. I was half expecting, "She knows you know" appearing in the English subtitles.
Singing was powerful.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By miss susan haddow on 18 Oct. 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I have played over many times very good as it is a difficult opera to listen to the first time
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5 reviews
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Best Frau on record, but not for the first timer 8 Jun. 2012
By Richard Chilson - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I approached this DVD with trepidation. It had received a couple good reviews. But I didn't like the idea of recreating its first audio recording. A Frau with no stage magic? Sounded like a cop out with all the stage magic just ignored.
But just a few minutes into the opera I was hooked. Not by the stage picture but by the sound. Thielemann draws forth the most glorious sound from the Vienna Phil I have ever heard. It is a beauteous burnished gold. Thielemann takes a leisurely approach to the score, and he also gives us the complete Frau unlike most performances. He is over ten minutes longer than Solti (also complete), and the slow pace allows the piece to blossom. This is fantastically beautiful writing with not a hint of the bombast that is usually made of much of the score.
Once the shock of the stage picture was over I was drawn in by the acting. This is a Frau with feeling. These characters may start out recording an opera but they quickly morph into their characters and, thanks to the direction from Loy, interact with great intensity, making this the pre-eminent Frau on DVD.
But should it be your first exposure to Frau? Frau along with the Magic Flute is the ultimate fairy tale opera. It is full of special effects whose difficulty helped keep it off the stage for so long. Just how do you portray flying fish, an emperor turned to stone before your eyes, and golden fountains springing up on stage?
Fortunately the other two recordings of Frau do take on the scenic challenge, and for a first time view you would do best with them. The Sawallish, from Japan, is filled with eye catching epiphanies. The Solti also cleaves to the original stage directions. It is not so fantastic as the Sawallish but it is complete, which the Sawallish is not.
But what of the current production? True the stage magic is not there. But the intense interactions of the characters does not leave you longing for special effects. In sum the overwhelming reason this is the best Frau comes from Thielemann and his superb cast of singing actors. If you can't stand the production, turn off the video and you still have by far the best Frau on record.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A Revelartory Interpretation 13 Jun. 2012
By DDD - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Christof Loy's Salzburg production of Die Frau Ohne Schatten has aroused considerable comment both negative positive and has been documented on Amazon's pages .Accordingly I am not going to dwell on the production to any degree. If you are not aware of the production I refer you to YouTube; the clips provided should give you a chance to arrive at your own conclusion.

Suffice it to say that since I already had the Solti and Swallisch DVD's I welcomed a regie interpretation. Loy would not have been my first choice as a director in view of his Entfurung from the Liceo which left a great deal to be desired. Not I hasten to add from the performance which I found exciting, but the production which took Minimalism to a new high (or low?). Loy's Frosch , however, has converted me to his aesthetic in large part due to the musical aspects of the performance and Thielemann's conducting and the playing of the Vienna Philharmonic, and in particular to the singing of Schwanenwilms, Herlitzius, and Schuster. Solti's performance also from Salzburg has a wonderful Empress in Cheryl Studer; the decline in her career is truly a sad one. Perhaps we will know the reasons one day. Marton's Dyer's wife is at the point in her vocal arc where she vacillates between a steady emission of tone and a wobble which has moved beyond incipient. The Sawallisch performance benefits from the conductor's love of the score but is underminied by the casting of the Empress and the Dyer's wife. Neither are singers of distinction; surely the conductor could have made other choices but since this taping is in Japan and documents the Munich opera on tour one doesn't have to look far for the reasons. Lipovsek repeats her nurse here. The one performance in which the Sawallisch trumps all others is Peter Sieffert's Kaiser, easily eclipsing Moser in the Solti and Gould in this most current performance. The American, Alan Titus, gives a better performance than one would have imagined, one superior to his newest competitor, Wolfgang Koch. Indeed it it is a matter of swings and roundabouts in viewing all these performances. The one real black mark that the Tokyo taping has to own up to is the cut required by the Japanese hosts. This was not Sawallisch's call since his studio recording is complete. Robert Hale is Solti's Barak; while he would never disloge memories of Schoeffler it is a more than respectable performance. When two American singers make more of the role than a native speaker............something is amiss.

Where the new set shines for me is the singing of the three women. All three are possessed of great charisma. Schwananwilms was recovering from a respiratory problem and perhaps he role is one size too large for her luminous voice. An ideal Marschallin one trusts that she will soon be cast as Madeline and Ariadne and they will be taped to document her interpretations. She would seem to be too passive but the inner conflicts of the character are revealed in all that she does and sings. Her humanity and her love for her husband are reflected in voice and gesture. Herlitzius offers a committed and involved performance; it is not always beautiful vocally, but her understanding of the role is evident in everything she does. I can't remember seeing an artist so willing to risk all and succeeding so totally. Schuster's Nurse if beautifully sung and superbly characterized. It is a long and difficult role and she risses to the challenge.

Alas, Koch as Barak and Stephen Gould as the Kaiser are not in the same league as their partners. Fortunately the Kaiser has less to sing than Barak, but what we have here is reminiscent of the effortful singing Hans Hopf. That he role is difficult is a given as well as Strauss' dislike of the tenor voice, but the strangulated sounds are not pleasant and Gould would appears to have limited acting ability though truth to tell the role is a difficult one to bring off dramatically. Koch is the essence of bland. He is limited by his voice which is dry and insufficiently nuanced. Perhaps Loy's concept isn't doing him any favors, but I had hoped for more.

Perhaps the ultimate "star" of the performance is Thielemann and the Vienna Philharmonic. Solti hbad the same orchestra but his temperament is quite different than Thielemann's. Solti would appear to not trust his emotions while Thielemann is alive to every nuance and subtlety in the score as well as the big orchestral moments which abound in every act. Simply put it is a stunniing performance.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Why? Oh why? 9 Aug. 2013
By operaexprt01 - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Honestly! I am not a purest in any way, and I often enjoy modern productions very much. However; this reaches a new level of insanity. If you are going to stage it like this, just do it in connect and call it a day. The money that went into this production must have been so expensive (along with Loy's fee) and to have this result is really meaningless. There is a small documentary that helps to explain his concept. Even after watching that it's still difficult to believe what mess he made of this incredible opera.

Musically we have a performance that's just about as good as you could get these days. One minor disappointment is Anne Schwanewilms. It goes without saying that a section of her voice (range) is radiant and beautiful, but the very top notes just don't spin or flow as they should. One viewer mentioned her getting over a respiratory infection, but this is the third time I have heard her and its always the same. She is musical and very at ease in this production. But this is a soprano that's working all over Europe and she will sing this role at The MET in November. How can you be a world's leading Kaiserin and not have a glorious top? Of course no one is perfect (Rysanek certainly had her issues with the hole in her middle voice), but Strauss wrote this for a singer with a glorious top voice. Up to an A she's excellent, but most Bb's and above it's as if she goes off her support, etc. And the high Db ( in the Wehe, mein Mann) is a scream and hardly approximated. No amount of acting can cover that up! It saddens me because she IS talented and I so wanted to like her better. We need great Strauss sopranos! On the plus side; she's a beautiful woman and the timbre of her voice (save the very top) is haunting. Maybe I am being too hard on her? But I have never heard a Kaiserin without fabulous top notes (and I have seen my share of Fraus). That said, there IS much to enjoy in her performance. You can tell that she is a serious and gifted artist.

Evelyn Herlizius is amazing as the Dyer's wife. Not the most beautiful voice to ever sing the part, but she's rock solid and tender when needed (who really ever touched Ludwig's spectacular performances of this role? She sang with such beauty.). Yes, there are a few screams on a high note or two, but we expect that in this role. Her singing at the and of Act II is astounding. It takes her to her limit as a soprano, but she's in total command. This role is known as a "killer", and after Elektra it's as dramatic as it gets for Strauss. This quite an achievement.

Who is Michaela Schuster? WOW! Her singing as Die Amme is first rate (for any generation). Lipovsek on the Sawalich and Solti DVD sets is on the same level (quite astounding to be sure), but Schuster has a more beautiful voice. You can take this as a liability or an asset. The slight edge to Lipovsek's voice adds a sinister quality to the character, but all props have to be handed to Michaela Schuster for turning in this kind of performance (vocally). She's a good actress, but Loy (for all his talk of realism, etc) makes her a bit of an "over the top" nurse in a setting that is supposed to be "symbolic and real".

Stephen Gould is a very good Kaiser and copes with the role quite well. I haven't much more to say because his role is so underplayed in this production. Good solid singer in a role that is hard as hell on a tenor's voice.

I very much enjoyed Wolfgang Koch's Barak (again, I miss the size and beauty of Walter Berry's voice). His voice is on the lyric side for this role, but it also adds a certain humanistic quality that is quite touching. And next to Herlizius the size difference is quite significant. Then again, we have a shrew against a gentle good hearted man....... It does work in this production, but that Orchestra is a big one!

Speaking of that orchestra; Thieliemann and the Salzburg Festival Orchestra are the stars of this performance. Absolutely incredible playing and musicality! It makes up for the crazy production in every way because musically it just takes you away. I started to forget about the ridiculous setting and let that magnificent score and wonderful performances take over.

All in all I find this DVD set worth my time and money.
The sound quality is very good, a very important issue with this Opera 11 Aug. 2015
By Juan Cahis Llugany - Published on
Format: DVD
It is a very well sung and performed recording. The sound quality is very good, a very important issue with this Opera.

But curiously, it seems that Mr. Thielmann is conducting "The Frau ohne Schatten", and simultaneously, Mr. Loy is directing "Ariadne auf Naxos", as the Majordomo in Ariadne says: "gleichzeitig". Is this really a good idea?
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A horrible waste 19 Mar. 2014
By Kona - Published on
Format: DVD
The Christoph Loys production is a lazy insult to this gorgeous opera. The sound is distorted. Singers cut notes short and sing out of tune . Christian Theilemann seems afraid to play the score with any gusto. This recording is a travesty and total disservice to Richard Strauss's gorgeous score and Hugo von Hofmannsthal's brilliant libretto. Any other video of this opera is a MILLION times better than this one.
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