Sunday 19 July @ 11am - Die Frau ohne Schatten

Sunday 19 July 11am Die Frau ohne Schatten

Please note that this screening will also be at The Bergman Theatre, Paramount Cinemas, Courtenay Place, Wellington. Depending on numbers this might be in the main theatre.

Special Ticket prices apply for this Special Sunday Screening Event: Opera Society and Wagner Society Members $25.00, Seniors $22.00, non members $30.00

All students under 25 Free.


We will take a lunch break, with details to follow after we garner interest in going to a restaurant nearby for a lunchtime get-together and gathering at your cost, not included in the ticket price.

This has always been convivial, enjoyable fun at our previous Sunday Screenings.

Details to follow.

Strauss – Die Frau ohne Schatten

Peter Seiffert – Emperor

Luana DeVol – Empress

Alan Titus – Barak

Janis Martin – Barak’s Wife

Marjana Lipovsek – Nurse

Jan-Hendrik Rootering – Die Geisterbote

Conductor – Wolfgang Sawallisch

Director – Ennosuke Ichikawa

Bavarian Staatsoper Orchestra & Chorus

1992         3hrs 3’


For conductor Wolfgang Sawallisch’s last operatic performances he chose to go to Japan where he hired a Japanese creative team to bring Strauss and Hoffmanstahl’s great fairy-tale opera to the stage. The style of performance owes much to the kabuki theatrical traditions of Japan. This opera is renowned for its difficulty in both staging and singing, making super-human demands on all concerned. It was filmed by NHK, the Japanese national television company, but, ironically, the Japanese censor prohibited its showing on Japanese television. This production, one of the few available on DVD, is deemed to be one of the most successful on all fronts. Sawallisch was immensely proud of his final production at the head of Bavarian Staatsoper.




Before the opera begins the Emperor of the South Eastern Islands was hunting with his falcon pursuing a gazelle. Just as he was about to kill it, it resumed its real form as the daughter of Keikobad, master of the spirit world. The Emperor married her, but she has remained neither spirit nor human and has borne no children.


Act One:


The Nurse is guarding the room where the royal couple are sleeping. Keikobad’s messenger appears to tell her that unless the Empress casts a shadow (i.e. becomes pregnant) within the next three days, the Emperor will be turned to stone and the Empress will be reclaimed by her father.

The Emperor goes hunting for three days to try and find his falcon. In his absence the falcon appears to the Empress informing her of what her father has threatened. She knows that she can only get a shadow from a human woman and forces the Nurse to help her find one.

On earth the Wife of the Dyer Barak, is arguing with her husband’s three deformed brothers. While Barak wants children is wife is unsure. The Nurse sees the opportunity to turn the Dyer’s wife’s unhappiness to her advantage and persuades the woman to keep her husband away from her for three days. In return she will live a future life of luxury. In the meantime the Nurse and Empress will be her servants. When the Dyer returns from work he finds he has been given a single bed to sleep in.


Act Two:


While the Dyer is at work the Nurse continues to tempt his wife by conjuring up a young man, but the Wife rejects him. Barak returns with food for his brothers and beggar children who have followed him home, but his wife refuses to eat.

Meanwhile the Emperor is waiting for his wife. When he sees her and the Nurse sneaking back he senses that they have been to the human world and resolves to kill his wife. He can’t do it though, and flees.

The Nurse gives Barak a sleeping draught and conjures up the youth again, but again the Wife rejects him. She wakes her husband rebuking him for sleeping during the day, leaving her prey to robbers.

The Empress is overcome with remorse for Barak and again hears the falcon’s warning of her and the Emperor’s fate.

Barak’s Wife taunts him by saying that she has been unfaithful and that she has sold her shadow. He wants to kill her, and the Nurse gives him a sword. The Wife realises that she does love him and the Empress repudiates their bargain so that as Barak goes to strike his Wife the sword is snatched away and the earth swallows both him and his wife and the Nurse leads the Empress to safety.


Act Three:

Held in separate cells in the spirit world Barak and his Wife realises that they belong together and so are released by servants of the spirit world to seek each other.

The Empress and Nurse approach Keikobad’s temple. The Nurse tries to stop the Empress from entering but the Empress dismisses her and enters.

Barak and his Wife are looking for each other. The Nurse reveals her hatred for mankind and deliberately misleads the couple. When she tries to enter the temple her way is barred. She is thrown in to a boat and condemned to wander forever among those she hates.

In the temple the Empress is offered the water of life allowing the Dyer’s Wife’s shadow to become hers. She refuses and is shown the Emperor who has become a stone statue. She says that she will die with him, still refusing to drink. The stage becomes dark. When light is restored she has gained a shadow and the Emperor has returned to life. Keikobad has forgiven her because she has learned human feelings. Both couples are reunited while the voices of their unborn children sing their praises.