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A performance without a shadow

Teatro Real
04/15/2005 -  and 19, 22, 25, 29 April and 2, 5, 9 May 2005
Richard Strauss: Die Frau ohne Schatten
Robert Dean Smith (The Emperor), Eva Johansson (The Empress), Julia Juon (The Nurse), Alan Titus (Barak), Luana De Vol (Dyer´s wife), Eike Wilm Schulte (Spirit Messenger), Susana Cordón (Guardian of Threshold of the Temple), Ruth Rosique (Voice of the Falcon)
Ennosuke Ichikawa (Stage Director)
Sinfónica de Madrid Orchestra and Chorus. Pinchas Steinberg (Conductor)

It was the first time that the Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid faced the monumental Richard Strauss Die Frau ohne Schatten (The Woman without a Shadow), in fact it was this work premiere at the Teatro Real. This debut was solved in an impeccable way by Pinchas Steinberg who, together with the unanimous applause of the public, received also the recognition of the own orchestra. Steinberg offered a reading of the score full of sonorous faculties, from the privacy of the last scene in the first act, to the vigor at the beginning of the act third.

But the opening of this production of State Opera of Baviera (1992), one of the outstanding bets of the Teatro Real this season, had the biggest expectancies over the scene created by Ennosuke Ichikawa, interpreter, producer, scriptwriter and Japanese artistic designer who works combining the traditional techniques of kabuki with the present technology. In absence of Ichikawa, the producer Isao Takashima assumed the responsibility of a complicated assembly by the numerous scene changes that take place throughout the three acts. The stage creates a visual world full of symbolism, in an Oriental and uncertain time and place. The clothes - based on traditional Japanese kimono- were stately mainly in majestic in those characters far from the sphere of the human, circumstance accentuated by the make up, very close to the kabuki.

About the voices, all them fitted within the tone types of the German opera and, even those singers of Mediterranean nature, were within a general correct context. Robert Dean, as the Emperor, made an acceptable job thanks to his attractive tenor timbre. Julia Juon, as the Nurse, displayed the kindness of its voice and its dominion on this character. The Swedish Eva Johannson, in the Empress role, had difficulties in the song line, brilliant in the highs but uncertain in the basses, due to an irregular metering of the air. The scenic and vocal development that the lyric baritone Alan Titus made as Barak was the best of the evening; he made credible the human tension that comes given him by a divine imposition, showing at the same time the goodness of his voice. The brief aria ‘Mir anvertrut’ in the third act was magnificent. Luana DeVol, lyric-dramatic soprano, was a Barak wife with strong expressivity, powerful volume and brilliant in the aria ‘Schweigget doch, ihrStimmen’.

Mar Sancho



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