Video: First Look at DIE FRAU OHNE SCHATTEN at San Francisco Opera

The production will run through June 28 at the War Memorial Opera House.

By: Jun. 05, 2023

San Francisco Opera is presenting Strauss and Hofmannsthal's "Die Frau ohne San Francisco Opera presents Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal's fairy-tale opera Die Frau ohne Schatten (The Woman Without a Shadow) through June 28 at the War Memorial Opera House.

Get a first look below!

Die Frau ohne Schatten is, along with Richard Wagner's Ring cycle and Hector Berlioz's Les Troyens, among opera's most ambitious and exhilarating large-scale works for the stage. For decades following its 1919 world premiere, Strauss' magnum opus was considered impossible to produce by many American impresarios due to the work's massive orchestral forces, complex scene changes and vocal demands. San Francisco Opera presented the work's American premiere in 1959, launching a proud Company tradition of presenting Die Frau ohne Schatten (or FROSCH, as Strauss affectionally called the opera, using the initials of its title to spell the German word for "frog"). After a 34-year absence, this "bucket list" experience for opera goers returns to the War Memorial Opera House stage as one of the key works of San Francisco Opera's Centennial Season.

The story follows a fairy-tale Empress who has three days to take the shadow of a mortal woman, and thereby that woman's ability to have children, in order to prevent a curse from turning her husband, the Emperor, to stone. While the theft of the shadow could avert the threat she faces, the Empress confronts whether her own happiness is possible if it comes at another's expense.

This new-to-San Francisco Opera production, which features otherworldly transitions between the spirit world, the imperial palace and the humble household of the tradesman, Barak, is the creative vision of artist David Hockney. The Los Angeles Times praised Hockney's vibrant settings for the opera's various scenes: "their riot of color matches that of Strauss' orchestra perfectly." The late Ian Falconer, frequent cover artist for The New Yorker and creator of the Olivia children's book series, designed the costumes. Roy Rallo directs the production, which also features the work of San Francisco Opera Lighting Director Justin A. Partier, as revival lighting designer.

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