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Strauss: Die Frau ohne Schatten (Mariinsky Orchestra/Valery Gergiev) [DVD]
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In October 2013, the Mariinsky label releases a DVD & Blu-ray of Strauss most Wagnerian of operas, Die Frau ohne Schatten. Filmed in the historic Mariinsky Theatre in 2011, it stars Russian tenor Avgust Amonov as The Emperor, Mlada Khudoley as The Empress, Olga Savova as The Nurse, and is conducted by Valery Gergiev. The Mariinsky Theatre is one of the few opera houses capable of staging Die Frau ohne Schatten, due to the demanding soloist roles, elaborate sets and large orchestral forces required. This epic production, premiered in 2009, is a collaboration between two British artists, director Jonathan Kent and designer Paul Brown, and has become a regular fixture in the opera company s schedule. Kent has a long established relationship with the Mariinsky, and with Strauss in particular. 'Die Frau ohne Schatten' (The Woman without a Shadow) is an outstanding display of virtuosity, presenting one of Strauss most complex and colourful scores. The three-act opera, with libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal, is an exotic fairytale with a strong moral dimension, focusing on themes of the unborn and the supernatural. Avgust Amonov, who plays the role of The Emperor, has been a Mariinsky Theatre soloist since 2003. Prize-winner at the XIX International Glinka Vocalists Competition (2001) and the Irina Arkhipova Foundation (2004), his title roles include Shostakovich s 'The Nose', Verdi s 'Don Carlo' and Wagner s 'Parsifal'. Soprano Mlada Khudoley was named Singer of the Year by the St Petersburg Theatre Society for her performance of the role of Sieglinde (Die Walküre) opposite Plácido Domingo in 2001. Her concert repertoire includes the soprano roles in Stravinsky s 'Les Noces', Mahler s Eighth Symphony and Beethoven s Ninth Symphony. Russian mezzo-soprano Olga Savova joined the Mariinsky Opera Company in 1996, and was nominated for a Grammy award in 2001 for her recording of Prokofiev s 'Semyon Kotko'. Her repertoire also includes the mezzo-soprano roles in Verdi s Requiem and Berlioz s dramatic legend 'La damnation de Faust'.
It is perhaps not surprising that this strangest of Strauss s operas has long been considered a tough nut to crack, but the number of performances which have the measure of the work have become more quotidian as is the case with this reading that takes an intriguing approach to this symbolist piece. The Russian voices have a highly individual sound... the vocal colouring is always distinctive. Picture and sound values are impressive... The Mariinsky Theatre is one of the few opera houses capable of staging Die Frau ohne Schatten, due to the demanding soloist roles, elaborate sets and large orchestral forces required. This epic production, premiered in 2009. --Barry Forshaw, Cd Choice- November 2013
**** Performance **** Recording Valery Gergiev coaxes some magnificent playing from his Mariinsky orchestra with that extraordinary style that seems to rely on little more than grasping a toothpick. The Act II interludes are sumptuous with the brass and woodwind in particularly fine fettle. But it s Gergiev s attention to detail that really counts with nothing smudged or generalised in his reading of the score. --BBC Music Magazine (UK)
The orchestra under, inevitably, Valery Gergiev sounds absolutely terrific... Gergiev s pacing and dynamics seem very sure and the orchestral passages are very impressive... The picture quality on Blu-ray is excellent and both the surround and stereo sound tracks are vivid and spacious. --Opera Ramblings (US)
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A somewhat strange story not always making a lot of sense. By the way 'Ohne Schatten', strictly translated means without a shadow, but in this context it apparently means without a... Read morePublished on 27 Sept. 2014 by George Foot
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. Read morePublished on 12 Jun. 2014 by Michael S. Rohan