Strauss: Die Frau ohne Schatten - Marton, Kollo, Nilsson, McIntyre, Hesse; von Dohnanyi. Hamburg, 1977
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This magnificent performance of Die Frau ohne Schatten stands out not only for its glittering cast, but also for the fact that it presents one great soprano in the twilight of her career and another at the onset. Birgit Nilsson was already nearing 60 by the time that she first sang the Dyer's wife. The role proved an excellent vehicle for her later years as it still gave her a chance to show off her gleaming high notes without being as taxing as Turandot or Brünnhilde. What her voice may lack in freshness, she makes up for with keen insight into her character's dilemma that only can come with age and experience. Eva Marton was still relatively unknown in 1977 and scores a triumph as the Kaiserin. Her pure yet voluptuous tone proves an indelible asset in depicting the metamorphosis from cloistered princess to passionate woman. René Kollo adds a well needed touch of lyricism to the role of the Kaiser without short-changing any of the many stentorian climaxes. Donald McIntyre's wooly bass-baritone lends itself well to Barak's gruff yet tender nature. Christoph von Dohnányi deftly balances the many layers and colors of Strauss' orchestration. The sound is fair to good.