15 Feb 2006
Die Frau ohne Schatten, Finnish National Opera
Raphaela Papadakis seems to like ‘playing with fire’. After her acclaimed performance as the put-upon maid, Anna, in Independent Opera’s production of Šimon Voseček’s Beidermann and the Arsonists at Sadler’s Wells last year, she is currently rehearsing for the premiere this week of And London Burned, a new opera by Matt Rogers which has been commissioned by Temple Music Foundation to commemorate the 350th anniversary of The Great Fire of London.
The Woman Without a Shadow can stir an audience like no other Strauss opera, even Der Rosenkavalier. A mix of the grand and the grandiose, it attracts those who want to chew on something of Wagnerian proportions, and Hofmannstal's mysterious, symbol-laden libretto adds richness. In the end, Frau is surprisingly optimistic in celebrating humanity, which may be one reason Strauss lavished on it some of his most opulent and heartfelt music in late-romantic vein.
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