Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a 3 CD set with a bonus CD-Rom containing a libretto and synopsis.
"The role that always suffers most is that of the Nurse, ostensibly because some of HofmannsthaI's most abstruse text is put into her mouth. It emerges here, in Hanna Schwarz's glorious performance, as one of Strauss's most memorable creations for the female voice, and if there were no other reasons (which there are) for hailing this EMI achievement, the Nurse would be enough.
This is a studio recording and has all the merits of the best of its kind. Balance is admirable, the off-stage voices are atmospherically recorded and the playing of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, which Sawallisch chose in preference to his own opera
orchestra, is magnificent. One is convinced, after listening to these discs, that this is Strauss's grandest and most ambitious, if not his most consistent, score, and that the beauty and imaginative genius of the orchestration are unsurpassed in all his music. There is a Mahlerian sound-quality in the chamber-music textures and in the use of the celesta, glass harmonica and other exotic instruments.
[Barak] is sung extremely well by Alfred Muff, who is in turn genial, rough, tender, mystified and compassionate, a performance near to ideal vocally and dramatically.
Nor can any admirer of this opera fail to be entranced by Cheryl Studer's Empress. She is delightfully light and airy in the coloratura of her first entrance and gradually, as the drama deepens, gains in richness and passion—lovely singing and interpretation. René Kollo as the Emperor is, well, Kollo, which means some of it is good and some coarse and ill-considered, but where it matters most, in his two big arias, he comes up trumps.
Great care has been taken with the smaller roles, such fine singers as Marjana Lipovek, JanHendrick Rootering, Paul Frey (a better choice as Emperor?) and Julie Kaufmann contributing their artistry to the whole splendid enterprise. The highest honours, though, must go to Wolfgang Sawallisch himself, whose passionate devotion to Strauss in general and to this opera in particular results here in a notable milestone in the gramophone's operatic progress."
-- M.K., Gramophone [9/1988]
Works on This Recording
Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op. 65 by Richard Strauss
René Kollo (Tenor),
Andreas Schmidt (Baritone),
Cheryl Studer (Soprano),
Jan-Hendrik Rootering (Bass),
Hanna Schwarz (Mezzo Soprano),
Alfred Muff (Bass Baritone),
Kurt Rydl (Bass),
Ute Vinzing (Soprano),
Kenneth Garrison ()
Tölz Boys Choir,
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra,
Bavarian Radio Chorus
Written: 1914-1918; Germany
Length: 130 Minutes 5 Secs.
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