Some operas are puzzles, puzzles. A series of question marks that make the honey of exegetes, who have been working on the puzzle for years to try to understand what its creators really meant. The quest for these messages provides (almost) as much pleasure as hearing music. This is the case with The Magic Flute by Mozart and Schikaneder, of which we have never ceased to give the sometimes most fanciful interpretations. Masonic and Egyptian symbolism is the door open to a thousand readings, which in no way tarnishes the raw pleasure of an eternal partition.
It is on this same thread stretched between metaphor and hermeticism that the musician Richard Strauss and his accomplice, the writer Hugo von Hofmannsthal, ventured. After less encrypted collaborations, which have given rise to the marvels of Elektra, Le Chevalier à la rose and Ariane à Naxos, they are continuing in this vein which is at once pastiche, tribute and pure creation. After the ancient re-reading, the Viennese wink and the theatrical abyme, both plunge happily into the magical parable with their extraordinary Woman without shadow. Welcome to an initiatory journey strewn with pitfalls and pitfalls, where we are talking about an immortal woman who, to be able to have children, must give up her eternity.
This intimate dilemma is coupled with a kind of spooky epic, heavy with meaning and symbols, with ghosts, hunchbacks, one-eyed people, potentates and craftsmen. A kind of dreamed Middle Ages, which is almost eyeing Tolkien, but which allows the librettist to juggle the messages of peace, in a work composed in the heart of the First World War (and created in 1919, in a peaceful Europe ... but not for a long time).
Richard Strauss gives here one of the craziest, most contrasting scores, juggling between registers with disconcerting virtuosity. It is in certain point the most Straussian of his operas, because we find there as well the almost hysterical violence in his first way, and this sweet, heady, elegiac tenderness of the last compositions. Monster and River Opera (three and a half hours of music) The Shadowless Woman is very difficult (and expensive) to get on an opera stage. It is in concert version that we will hear it this week at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. But we can trust the coruscant Yannick Nézet-Séguin to burn down this fascinating score, at the head of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. Attention: for river works, shifted hours. The show of around four hours (including intermissions) starts at 6.30pm and it's an opera that you don't want to miss a single note…
" La Femme sans ombre , by Richard Strauss, at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, 15, avenue Montaigne (Paris 8th). Tel: 01 49 52 50 50. February 17, 2020, at 6:30 p.m. Seats: from 5 to 110 €.