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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kent's staging helps you to understand this complex opera.
I shall write the review first,and details about the opera will come afterwards.The staging and costumes are both traditional and modern,so the opera should appeal to both,because it makes sense.Jonathan Kent opens Act One with a messenger sitting on a swing,dressed in traditional Eastern combined Chinese Costume,as is the nurse.This is the spiritual world. She sits next...
Published 16 months ago by Ultrarunner

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dire...pun intended.
I found this production almost an embarrassment to watch with Russian singers struggling to cope with the demands of the most Wagnerian of Strauss' operas. I am second to none in my admiration of the wonderful score, but even this could not detract from the fact that the singers and to a lesser extent the orchestra, were out of their depths. Visually things were not much...
Published 13 months ago by Mr. Adrian J. Gardner


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dire...pun intended., 14 Jan. 2014
This review is from: Strauss: Die Frau ohne Schatten (Mariinsky Orchestra / Valery Gergiev) [Blu-ray] [2013] [Region Free] (Blu-ray)
I found this production almost an embarrassment to watch with Russian singers struggling to cope with the demands of the most Wagnerian of Strauss' operas. I am second to none in my admiration of the wonderful score, but even this could not detract from the fact that the singers and to a lesser extent the orchestra, were out of their depths. Visually things were not much better and the supernatural effects in the Second Act were risible.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointment., 2 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: Strauss: Die Frau ohne Schatten (Mariinsky Orchestra / Valery Gergiev) [Blu-ray] [2013] [Region Free] (Blu-ray)
I'm cutting to the chase. This wonderful opera was basically a disappointment. The supernateral world unconvincing and the updated modern settings at first what a clever idea was in the end dull. Not of course as appalling and disasterous as the Christof Loy production but still dull. The best Frau's at the moment are Wolfgang Sawallisch followed by Georg Solti.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Typical Mariinsky product, 29 April 2014
I really wonder why these people try to undertake tasks that are light years away from their competences and sensitivity: vocally, scenically and artistically. They managed to butcher a Ring Cycle a few years ago at the ROH and now they have the audacity of tackling Strauss. Stick to Boris and Kovanschina, please!
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kent's staging helps you to understand this complex opera., 31 Oct. 2013
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Ultrarunner (Perth-West Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Strauss: Die Frau ohne Schatten (Mariinsky Orchestra / Valery Gergiev) [Blu-ray] [2013] [Region Free] (Blu-ray)
I shall write the review first,and details about the opera will come afterwards.The staging and costumes are both traditional and modern,so the opera should appeal to both,because it makes sense.Jonathan Kent opens Act One with a messenger sitting on a swing,dressed in traditional Eastern combined Chinese Costume,as is the nurse.This is the spiritual world. She sits next to a red ancient door,where the building sits on a rock.A tree is nearby with a background of deep blue.The Empress is dressed in traditional golden clothes,the Emperor the same.We do see a golden falcon which sings. Then the nurse and Empress decends to the mortal world,which is set in dirty rooms of today,as are the costumes.Dancers from the spiritual world dressed traditionally, dance and sing in this setting.Modern technology is used,when there are changes from the spiritual to the mortal world and vice versa between scenes. A screen shows clouds,or sky and the falcon,the sun and sea,plus a pool of water.

Act 2. A return to the spiritual world,traditional costumes which give it this other worldliness,so you understand where you are.A tree with huge light blue flowers are at one end of the stage,with a small falcon. Nearby a horse.Then back to today's world.Act 3 really comes into its own,where the Empress is laying next to the stone of her husband. Above the rocks,hang to one side,the posessions of the physical world and the other the red door and the tree;symbolizing her state of mind and the test she must endure.The scenery and costumes help you understand the opera and what world you are in.Brilliant.

Gergiev conducts the Mariinsky Orchestra and Chorus;at 203 minutes,faster then Thielemann.Each conductor has a different agenda and cannot be compared. Gergiev brings out the modern music and melodies within the opera. Thielemann the beautiful long melodies of Strauss.One brings out the tension contained within this opera,the other the sheer beauty of the score.Gergiev uses the shortest baton I have ever seen,it is the size of a match stick.Both are good."This score" according to Irving Kolodin,contains some of the freshest,sweetest,and most heartfelt music Strauss wrote."

The singers I have never heard of before.The Emperor is Avgust Amonov,has the type of voice Peter Seiffert had when he was younger. The Empress Mlada Khudoley,has a different voice to the great Anne Schwanewilms,but the part suits her. There is no one to touch Anne in this part.But Mlada is very good.Nurse,Olga Savova,is near enough a contralto. Barak, Edem Umerov, sings "Mir anvertraut" beautifully,which makes you gulp.When his wife, Olga Sergeeva,who has sung Brunnhilde in the Ring cycle,sings if 'only you would believe I have not sold my shadow' in a distinctive manner. You believe her.This opera has to have four good singers for it to work,and they have,and it does.The rest of the cast are worthy of the parts they sing.

This opera staged by Loy as if actually recording the opera in the mid 1950's,works on many levels.It is about a new singer threatening a older one,but also the psychological termoils in the life of the singers,which illustrates what this opera is all about.It made you think.Thielemann conducts the Vienna Philharmoniker. The cast has Anne Schwanewilms,Michaela Schuster,Wolfgang Koch,Evelyn Herlitzius,Stephen Gould.It works because of these singers but it is not to everyones taste because of the staging.But it had a different agenda and cannot in anyway be compared with this new version. This new version is a combined traditional and modern staged opera,which would suit those who did not like this Thielemann version.Even if you did,like me,you will like this version as well.

ALL REGIONS. HD 1080i. 2.o 24 bit PCM Stereo. 5.1 DTS-HD master audio. Menu English. Subtitles: English. French. German.Spanish. Russian.The booklet has the synopsis and details about the singers in Russian,English,French and German,plus a few pictures from the opera.

REFERENCES:Batta,A.(Ed) Opera.2005.Konemann. Ewen,D. The world of 20th century music.1968. Prentice-hall. Guinn,J&Stone,L(Eds) St James Opera Encyclopedia(1997).Visible Ink. Holden,A.(Ed) The Penguin opera guide 1995.Viking. Kennedy,M. Richard Strauss.(1976)J.M Dent &Sons.

Richard Strauss (1864-1949) and his librettist Hofmannsthal were opposites. The former was easy going,the latter was a snob,stiff and aloof. However,when Hofmannsthal died on the 13th July 1929,Strauss wrote to his widow,"no musician ever found such a helper and supporter. No one will ever replace him for me or the world of music."Between them they created; Elektra,Der Rosenkavalier,Ariadne Auf Naxos,Die Frau Ohne Schatten,Die Egyptian Helena(available on Decca with Gwyneth Jones,Detroit Sym orch cond Dorati) and Arabella.

The libretto for Die Frau ohne Schatten draws upon Grimm's fairy tales,folk stories of China,Persia(Iran)and India,to the works of Goethe,Ruckert and other German Romantic poets.However,some of Strauss's music is in the Wagnerian mode,also that of Elektra, the delicacy of chamber music,and in parts resembles closely Mahler's 8th symphony and Das Lied von der Erde's exotic oriental flavour.

The Synopsis: In the World of spirits,a young Empress,offspring of the supernatural Keikobad,has no shadow. The shadow being symbolic of fertility. This is the reason why she cannot bear a child,though she has been married to the emperor for a year. In three days time her husband will be turned to stone,then she will be forced to return to her father. So the Empress accompanied by the nurse descends to earth to buy a shadow.They arrive at the hut of Barak,a dyer,who has a nagging wife,based upon Pauline,Strauss's wife. In return for worldly riches the wife is willing to sell her Shadow.Later on the wife reveals to Barak what she has done.He threatens to kill her.The Empress moved by pity states she cannot accept a shadow stained with blood. The dyers wife confesses she has not actually sold the the shadow. Then the Barak and his wife are sucked into the world of spirits,where they are reconciled.The Empress because of her unselfishness and nobility,gains a shadow and the Emperor is released from being a stone.

According to Ewen "the shadow is is a symbol of humanity.The Empress is a non human who has to experience love and pity to fulfil her.Barak is humanity,who has not achieved spiritual values.The nurse is unable to follow the Empress on her quest to have sympathy for all beings". The Crippled brothers represents the imperfect qualities of Mankind. Voices of unborn children: symbolizing latent creative posiblities,they await their manifestation.Falcon analytical consciousness.Hofmansthal stated that it is about,"combining the higher values of the spiritual realm with that of the earthiness of Man".There are so many ways one can interpret this opera.That is why it is one of my favourites.This opera was completed in 1917,so the work was probably a reaction to the First world war.The Premiere was held in 1919 at the Vienna Staatsoper.Dont forget the DGG CD Live version with Rysanek, cond Bohm.I hope you enjoy this opera as I did.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The finest Frau on DVD, 12 Jun. 2014
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I both saw this production at the Edinburgh Festival, and reviewed this disc professionally for the BBC. Both times I thought it the best I'd seen. Jonathan Kent's production is clear and imaginative, treating the story as one of human relationships. ambitions and dreams, rather than a murky allegory. I'm no friend of distorted modern production styles, but shifting the human characters from vaguely oriental peasants into modern poverty-row characters brings them and their emotional problems far more alive, especially the Dyer's Wife, normally played as a Germanic harridan but here a believable discontented young wife hungering for a better life. The world of the immortals is very atmospherically handled, and imagery such as the falcon poetically handled.

The entirely Russian cast, contrary to other opinions here, does very well indeed. If they're not quite the equal of the great stars of previous generations, they're still very good, and in many cases younger and fresher, even singing German. They're certainly better than the recent cast at Covent Garden. Olga Savova's superbly sung and acted Nurse would grace any cast, Evgeny Ulanov's sonorous Spirit Messenger is magnificent -- better even than Bryn Terfel on Solti's DVD version -- and Avgust Amonov, though a rather sedate stage figure, sings the Emperor far better than German heroic bellowers. Mlada Khudoley's Empress and Olga Sergeeva's Dyer's Wife strain their youthful voices at times, but live their roles passionately, and Eden Umerov's moments of gruff tone are balanced by some genuinely heart-wrenching singing and credible characterization. The supporting cast is excellent, and the sense of ensemble evident. Gergiev conducts with sweeping emotional force, and the Mariinsky orchestra sounds superb. The recording does it all justice, on BluRay especially. There are some of the usual stage cuts, but they're no great disadvantage.

Solti's Salzburg set, my previous favourite, is undoubtedly very good, even better conducted and with some fine casting, but the somewhat clinical production isn't nearly as involving and there isn't the intensity of acting and ensemble. The most recent competitor, Christof Loy's recording-studio staging, is wholly empty, a clumsy get-out of a difficult piece, and no more than adequate musically. This is the version which comes nearest to making this heavyweight fable a living human opera.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful!, 6 Jun. 2014
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H. A. Weedon "Mouser" (North Somercotes, Lincolnshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Strauss: Die Frau ohne Schatten (Mariinsky Orchestra / Valery Gergiev) [Blu-ray] [2013] [Region Free] (Blu-ray)
Opera fans become familiar with Italian and can tell when it isn't being pronounced and enunciated very well. There's also quite a big difference between Russian style and Italian and German style operas. German is another language regular opera viewers soon learn to adapt to when it is enunciated properly. I found it decidedly painful to listen to this recording. Just ten minutes into it I was asking myself what exactly was going on.

If you haven't already wasted your money on this awful production made even worse by a lacklustre orchestre, don't buy it. I'm not going to waste any more time reviewing it because it's just not worth it.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 31 Oct. 2014
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Andres Santos Jr. "Andres Jr" (Sao Paulo, BRAZIL) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Strauss: Die Frau ohne Schatten (Mariinsky Orchestra / Valery Gergiev) [Blu-ray] [2013] [Region Free] (Blu-ray)
great job!
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