Most recent performance
There are currently no scheduled performances of Die Frau ohne Schatten. It was last on stage 14 March—2 April 2014 as part of the Spring 2013/14 season.
The Empress is half-mortal and does not cast a shadow. If she does not acquire a shadow in three days, she will be returned to the spirit world and the Emperor turned to stone. To what lengths will she go to avoid such a fate?
Die Frau ohne Schatten (The Woman without a Shadow) was conceived by Richard Strauss and librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal with the model of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte in mind: a fairytale with a strong moral dimension. Although the narrative was largely Hofmannsthal’s invention, he drew on a diverse range of sources, from The Arabian Nights to Grimm’s fairytales. The opera was completed during World War I and received its premiere in 1919.
Die Frau ohne Schatten is one of Strauss’s mightiest and most demanding scores. It draws on the resources of a huge orchestra that includes extensive percussion, an organ, thunder and wind machines, as well as a glass harmonica. Musical highlights include a tender, yearning duet for the dyer Barak and his wife, an impassioned solo scene for the Empress as she struggles to maintain her integrity rather than steal a mortal woman’s shadow, and the opera’s ecstatic finale. Claus Guth’s striking production emphasizes the dark undercurrents of Strauss’s opera and powerfully evokes the Empress’s plight as a woman trapped between two repressive worlds.
News and features
20 June 2017
Our favourites of the undisputed kings of opera, from Idomeneo to Peter Grimes via Siegfried and Otello.
Claus Guth’s production of Die Frau ohne Schatten wins Best Opera at The South Bank Sky Arts Awards 20158 June 2015
Richard Strauss’s dark fairytale honoured at a ceremony held at The Savoy Hotel in London, last night.
27 April 2015
The awards, now in their third year, celebrate excellence in opera and provide bursaries for emerging talent.
1 April 2015
Claus Guth’s production of Strauss’s exotic fairytale and the extraordinary multi-camera view of Die Walküre nominated for awards.
27 March 2015
A host of Royal Opera-affiliated artists have been shortlisted.
17 February 2015
Composers have long used magical settings to tell moving, profound and very human stories.
Die Frau ohne Schatten (The Woman without a Shadow), Op. 65, is an opera in three acts by Richard Strauss with a libretto by his long-time collaborator, the poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal. It was written between 1911 and either 1915 or 1917. When it premiered in Vienna on 10 October 1919, critics and audiences were unenthusiastic. Many cited problems with Hofmannsthal's complicated and heavily symbolic libretto. However, it is now a standard part of the operatic repertoire.