This year the Met showcases three great operas produced by one of the all-time great composer-librettist teams, Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal. First out of the gate is the most sensational, 1919’s Die Frau ohne Schatten, an ambitious, musically mind-blowing fairy tale colored by the devastation of World War I. The runaway hot ticket of the Met’s first Lincoln Center season in 1966, Frau scored again big-time in 2001 with a visually spectacular production by the late Herbert Wernicke.
Now, this mirrored, brilliantly lit extravaganza returns after more than a decade with musical forces that should again pack the house. Most excitingly, German soprano Anne Schwanewilms makes a long-awaited company debut as the ethereal Empress, and native New Yorker Christine Goerke—after worldwide successes as Strauss’s Elektra and in major Wagner roles—returns in triumph as the earthy Dyer’s Wife.
Leading the huge cast and orchestral forces will be one of the operatic world’s most profound and skillful conductors, Vladimir Jurowski, who returns to the Met five years after his acclaimed turn in another wonderfully scored post-Wagnerian fable, Hansel and Gretel. Schwanewilms, Goerke and two more Met cast members —heldentenor Torsten Kerl and baritone Johan Reuter—raised the roof in Frau under Jurowski’s baton in Amsterdam in February. Expect no less here.—David Shengold