Berlin-based Orchestras

Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin

Vladimir Jurowski, conductor
Start of the Season

In “Die Frau ohne Schatten” – for many the culmination of Richard Strauss’ operatic work – Strauss demonstrates his mastery of the psychological definition of his characters and of the virtuoso handling of the orchestra and its instruments.

Tina Modotti, Hands of the Puppeteer, 1929

Tina Modotti, “Hands of the Puppeteer”, 1929

© unkown

  • 4 h

Past Dates

17:10 work introduction

The era of the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin’s last chief conductor, Marek Janowski, culminated in concertante performances of all great Wagner-operas. Vladimir Jurowski, who bears artistic responsibility for the orchestra since 2017, takes this one step further with his Strauss-project. “Die Frau ohne Schatten (The Woman without a Shadow)”, first performed 100 years ago on 10 October 1919 at Vienna’s Staatsoper, is seen by many as the pinnacle of Strauss’ operatic work, at least as far as his cooperation with Hugo von Hofmannsthal is concerned. In this stage work, Strauss goes beyond Wagner in every respect: The fantastical subject does not refer to a single myth or mythical cycle but rather to the mythical or fairy-tale-like per se, and to the place that humanity finds within them. Both authors passionately contradict Wagner’s quintessential allegation that love can in fact not be truly lived. In this magnum opus, text and music find a complete connection: The music does not only keep up with the libretto’s free flights of fantasy, it often brings it back to earth. For long periods, the music speaks alone; symphony as a medium truly becomes part of the musical drama. The score is highly differentiated and contains a multitude of musical colours. Strauss expertly plays on all available options, from the most delicate chamber music to roaring tutti-thunder. From near silence to the verge of explosion, he guides his work through all shades and luminous intensities. The composer’s brilliant mastery of the orchestra as an instrument was not only a result of his long experience, but also of a detailed study of Hector Berlioz’ writings on instrumentation, which he edited in a new version, with additional analyses of Wagner-works.

Concert Programme

Richard Strauss (1864 – 1949)
Die Frau ohne Schatten
Opera in three acts (1910 – 1917)
Text by Hugo von Hofmannsthal

Concert Performance


Torsten Kerl tenor (The Emperor)
Anne Schwanewilms soprano (The Empress)
Ildikó Komlósi mezzo soprano (The Nurse)
Nikolay Didenko baritone (The Messenger of Keikobad)
Andrey Nemzer tenor (The Guardian of the Threshold)
Michael Pflumm tenor (The Apparition of a Youth)
Nadezhda Gulitskaya soprano (The Voice of a Falcon)
Karolina Gumos alto (A Voice from Above)
Thomas J. Mayer bass baritone (Barak, the Dyer)
Ricarda Merbeth soprano (The Dyer’s Wife)
Christoph Späth tenor (The Hunchback, Barak’s brother)
Tom Erik Lie baritone (The One-eyed Man, Barak’s brother)
Jens Larsen bass (The One-armed Man, Barak’s brother)

Rundfunkchor Berlin
Benjamin Goodson coach
Kinderchor der Staatsoper Unter den Linden Berlin
Vinzenz Weissenburger coach

Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin
Vladimir Jurowski conductor

A Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin event in cooperation with Berliner Festspiele / Musikfest Berlin