'Die Frau ohne Schatten'
at the Strauss Festival in Leipzig,
reviewed by GIUSEPPE PENNISI
Die Frau ohne Schatten is seldom performed outside the German speaking world because of the tremendous means it requires: twenty four principals, a huge orchestra (with violas and cellos in double sections as well as the violins, mostly quadruple winds, extensive percussion including glass harmonica, and offstage woodwind septet, a dozen extra brass, a wind machine and a thunder machine), a double chorus and a children's chorus. No less demanding are the staging requirements: eleven changes of set (in three acts, lasting about four hours), most of them without even a short intermission — there are seven intermezzi, all on the same leitmotif) and a series of special effects, including singers descending from an upper stage to a lower stage, fountains and waterfalls appearing on the stage, an earthquake, a fire, and one of the protagonists being turned into a statue.
Some thirty years ago, a Jean Pierre Ponnelle production for La Scala attempted to solve these problems by making use of highly stylized Chinese theatre. The production was also seen in Florence...
Copyright © 28 June 2017