Strauss: Die Frau ohne Schatten - Harper, King, Dernesch, Berry, Hesse; Solti. London, 1976
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Die Frau ohne Schatten is certainly one of those operas that can only be appreciated with an excellent cast and superb musical direction. This performance delivers on both fronts. Georg Solti had a great understanding for the music of Richard Strauss. It is unfortunate that he recorded this opera so late in his career. Not to say that the London recording is not exceptional but to my ear this performance has more immediacy and bite. The great British soprano Heather Harper assumes the title role. She has no trouble coping with the soaring Strauss line and her voice seams to cut through the orchestra very well. She also brings a Mozartian grace to her part which lends it a wonderful ethereal quality that is crucial (although rare) for this role. James King must have been able to buy several houses from singing Der Kaiser. He sang it all over the world and had absolutely no rivals. It was truly incredible that a tenor with such a baritonal quality would be at such ease in the kind of tessitura the Strauss demands. Helga Dernesch was nearing the end of her soprano career in 1976. Although some of the top notes do not have the ease of some of her colleagues' one can still delight in the wonderful auburn hue of her voice. Walter Berry is very good as Barak. The sound is excellent.