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Strauss: Die Frau ohne Schatten Original recording reissued

34 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording reissued, September 9, 2003
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Product Details

  • Performer: Julia Varady, Plácido Domingo, Hildegard Behrens, José van Dam, Sumi Jo, et al.
  • Orchestra: Wiener Philharmoniker
  • Conductor: Georg Solti
  • Composer: Richard Strauss
  • Audio CD (September 9, 2003)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Original recording reissued
  • Label: Decca
  • ASIN: B00000420D
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #159,245 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Brian M. Kulesza on December 16, 1999
Format: Audio CD
Critical opinion has been consistently divided over this work, which first premiered in October 1919. As a Chicagoan, I waited until 1984 to see the premiere at Lyric Opera of Chicago, and it was worth the wait.
This glorious performance under Solti's direction has firmly cemented my opinion that this is one of the greatest operas ever penned and should be standard repertoire by now.
To have Placido Domingo branch out and sing the role of the Emperor in this recording is another benefit of the performance.
I also appreciated very much that most of the music that had customarily been cut from performances [a practice apparently initiated by Karl Boehm] have been restored.
This is a work that succeeds musically even though the plot is at times encumbered by esoteric symbolism.
However, it is the best performance I have ever heard and I highly recommend it.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 31, 1999
Format: Audio CD
When I bought this opera, I didn't know what to expect. Frau is largely ignored in the American repetoire, which is a tragedy now that I know how marvellous this work is. True, the story is lofty with a lucid message that is unpopular in today's culture. More importantly though, the music is thrilling from start to finish. The music keeps one's attention throughout, unlike Rosenkavalier and many of Strauss' later works. Solti's orchestra has some unforgetable moments -- the descent of the Princess into the human world in Act I,for example. All the singers are incredible, even if they have no stage experience in these roles. (Where would they get the opportunity in America, anyway?) Of note is the always fascinating Hildegard Behrens. Her transition from the surly and selfish woman who sells her shadow to gain "manly" powers to a loving wife could be pulled off convincingly by few others. The finale unleashes all the soloists, orchestra, and chorus in a Straussian climax equalled only by Salome's final scence and the Rosenkavalier trio.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 10, 2003
Format: Audio CD
This is a simply fantastic recording. This is one of my favorite operas in the entire operatic repetoire. Behrens gives a terrific performance as the Dyer's Wife and so does Judy Varady as the Empress. Domingo sings fabulously as the Emperor and Reinhild Runkel's beautiful, mature and fruity voice is perfect for the difficult role of the Nurse. Jose Van Dam is a marvellous Barak. The Vienna Philharmonic is incredible!!
Having said that, I do also recommend another recording. Who can ever forget Leonie Rysanek in the role of the Empress? Leonie Rysanek, with her shimmering and floating high soprano whether pianissimo or fortissimo is just incomparable. And who can ever forget Christa Ludwig's miraculous and heart stopping performance as the Dyer's Wife? Just buy the DG Vienna 1964 <Die Frau Ohen Schatten> conducted by Karajan and listen to it. You will understand. I LOVE Die Frau Ohne Schatten!!!!!!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By "hilda_m_sykes" on January 20, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Open up your ears!! This is a classic recording. There are only 2 completely uncut Die Frau's on the market, the Solti and the Sawallisch, and it's obvious that the Solti wins hands down because the Sawallisch is ruined by some inappropriate casting.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By S Duncan on February 22, 2007
Format: Audio CD
This is a great work of art. The story is intriguing. I'm not generally a fan of Strauss' operas, barring Elektra. I find the music is not generally tuneful enough for my taste, to put it crudely. There are however, stunning moments...like that charming interlude with the orchestra and cello solo. Really beautiful.

The singers are great but there is some trading-off. Where Placido Domingo is not necessaruly idiomatic enough, he sings beautifully, as always. Where Hildegard Behrens and Reinhild Runkel have the requisite idiom and dramatic expression, their voices are most unappealing to me. I agree with one previous reviewer's description of "Behrens' wiry tone," although she sounds better here than some of her other recordings. Ms Runkel does have some pitch problems and a fair bit of unsteadiness. Still, the roles are well performed.

Full accolades go to Julia Varady (a searing, touching and BEAUTIFUL-voiced Empress), Sumi Jo (a rapturously sung Falcon) and Jose Van Dam (an achingly warm and well sung husband). I found all the other supporting roles to be very well executed and Solti's conducting and the orchestral clarity make this an excellent choice.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Laon on July 21, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Georg Solti had planned to record this opera for years, waiting, however, until his dream cast could be assembled. He also returned to his old orchestra, the Vienna Phil, with whom he made so many classic recordings before taking up the Chicago post.
The result is that Solti had time to plan and refine his shaping of the work: this performance has all of the brilliance of orchestral sound and excitement of performance of the earlier Strauss recordings with the Vienna Phil (to say nothing of the Wagner recordings), but there is also a greater willingness to let tension ebb and flow, to relax in the lyrical passages without ever losing forward momentum. This is perhaps a more humanist Solti than we meet in, say, his earlier recordings of _Salome_ and _Electra_.
As for that dream cast, it was indeed worth waiting for, and includes such details as Sumi Jo as the impossibly high, non-human voice of the Falcon, as well as Domingo handsome, heroic and intelligent as the Prince, Hildegard Behrens surely the most attractive Wife on record, not entirely and only a shrew - far superior to Böhm's Christel Goltz or (for the 2nd recording, unforgiveably abridged) Birgit Nilsson; and van Damm noble as the long-suffering and unreasonably kind Barak. Julia Varady is also a more humanist Empress than we find in rival recordings, having not quite so far to travel as some, before gaining some understanding sympathy for human sufferings and concerns.
In fact humanism might be the word for this performance. For all the fantastical nature of Hoffmannthal's libretto (part _Magic Flute_, part _Parsifal_, with strong plot echoes - surely no coincidence - of Wagner's first, fairy-tale, opera, _Die Feen_) the subject is suffering and the lesson is compassion. Solti's thoughtful, long-planned performance, and his flawless cast make _Die Frau_ not the arid allegory it can sometimes appear to be, but an involving and compassionate drama, a Morality Play.
Cheers!
Laon
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