But La Cieca thinks Die Frau ohne Schatten is always worth a view! For complete details of this performance from San Francisco Opera see here and note that the livestream starts strictly on time!

The greatest strength of Hockney’s production as realized by Rallo was that it effectively told the complex and highly symbolic story and, by staying true to the “magic fairy-tale” as envisioned by Strauss and Hofmannsthal, it conveyed to the audience its lessons without being preachy. Decidedly whimsical in his approach, Hockney took the fairy-tale aspects seriously and saturated the stage with an explosion of bold and striking colors, emphasizing the other-worldly nature of the story, aided by brilliant lighting designed by Justin A. Partier.

The efficiency of the staging was particularly staggering, as the set mostly consisted of a single rotating semi-circular piece with one side representing the Emperor’s realm and the other constituting Barak the Dyer’s hut complete with dye pots, coupled with various dropdown props to denote trees and doors, among others. All these resulted in smooth transitions between scenes and nonstop action of the story; the whole set even felt like children’s pop-up story book at times!

. . . .

Swedish soprano Nina Stemme made a spellbinding turn as the Dyer’s Wife, in a performance full of power and vigor. Her round soprano voice sounded darker (as evident in Kurt Weill’s section of her recital last month, reviewed by my colleague Christian Ocier) than the last time I heard her essaying the role, giving her portrayal an earthy undertone. Her confrontation with Barak at the end of Act 2 was a stunning tour de force both in her acting and particularly in the way she rode the blazing wall of sound of the orchestra.

Our Own Michael Anthonio