After I posted last week about seeing Chicago Lyric’s splendid production of Richard Strauss’s Die Frau ohne Schatten, Lisa Hirsch, who blogs knowledgeably about such matters at Iron Tongue of Midnight, wrote to me with an assessment of the opera’s plot that is just too brilliant not to be shared:
The plot drives me mad, between the idea that no one can possibly be fulfilled without children and the sheer ponderousness that results from taking “The Magic Flute,” layering on another dozen characters, replacing the Masonic allegories with something Hoffmansthal made up, and carefully cutting out all the wit and humor of the Mozart. Still, the music glitters and thunders, and the Empress’s transformation scene, done well, is one of the great scenes in all opera. But then I have to put my head in my hands during the damned chorus of unborn children–sheesh!
Hahahahaha! So it wasn’t just me.
Lisa was also kind enough to recommend to me some recordings of the opera: this full recording of a Wolfgang Sawallisch production and two cut versions conducted by Karl Bohm and Herbert von Karajan.