The premiere performance of Mariusz Treliński’s new production ended to rapturous applause. The latest work from Treliński, the Polish National Opera’s artistic director, R. Strauss’s Die Frau ohne Schatten (La Femme sans ombre) opened on 17 October at the Lyon Opera.
This is the first time the Lyon audiences can see and listen to the piece since its world premiere at the Vienna State Opera exactly 104 years ago this October. Hugon von Hofmannsthal’s libretto was markedly influenced by the Freudian theories gaining momentum at the time and thus seemed an ideal material for Miariusz Treliński. The director approached the opera as a journey of a woman experiencing ‘spiritual desolation’, or melancholia, clearly referencing the work of Lars von Trier and Ingmar Bergman.
The production is led by Daniele Rustioni, the music director of the Opéra National de Lyon and winner of the 2022 Best Conductor International Opera Awards 2022. The cast is led by Vincent Wolfsteiner (Emperor) and Polish-German soprano Sara Jakubiak (Empress) alongside Josef Wagner (Barak, the dyer), Ambur Braid (Dyer’s wife farbiarza), Lindsay Ammann (Nurse), Paweł Trojak (One-eyed Man), and actress Natalia Bielecka. The creative team includes Marcin Cecko (dramaturge), Marek Adamski (costumes), Marc Heinz (lighting), Jacek Przybyłowicz (choreography), and Bartek Macias (videos).
Here are some of the critical reactions:
‘Mariusz Treliński, whose visual work seduces, combines beautiful lighting, immersive videos (populated with striking undulating and magical effects) and ingeniously simple sets mounted on a turntable.’
Le Monde (fr)
‘Mariusz Trelinski, a true master of stage direction, brings the two levels of reading of this improbable work to life throughout the opera: the plant kingdom of the mythical world of the shadowless woman (brilliantly designed to bring to mind Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia), then the doubling of the human world in a Fassbinder-style flat.’
‘Director Mariusz Treliński relies on a symbolic realism of great psychological density.’
‘Mariusz Treliński, whose Tristan and Isolde, The Fiery Angel, Onegin, and Iolanta we have all enjoyed, this time preferred to turn his attention to an issue that is relevant in this day and age rather than the naivety of the fairytale (…) or symbolism (…): the imperative of parenthood that has always burdened human beings (…) and women in particular. Are you a woman if you do not have children? That is the question.’
‘Mariusz Trelinski, filmmaker and artistic director of the Polish National Opera, is in charge of the staging. His production of Prokofiev’s The Fiery Angel made quite an impression at the 2018 Aix Festival. His production aims to bring the complex, symbolist plot of Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s libretto to life in contemporary society.’
‘After years of Mariusz Treliński’s active presence on European and American stages, another premiere of his work abroad seems natural. Yet, this staging of Richard Strauss’s Die Frau ohne Schatten in Lyon is far from the ordinary. (…) The performance ended to an enthusiastic ovation, which was also a sign of appreciation for Daniele Rustioni, the Lyon Opera’s music director, and the cast led by Sara Jakubiak (Empress), Lindsay Ammann (Nurse), and Ambur Braid (Wife). The three singers handled Strauss’s difficult score with great skill and delivered convincing portrayals of their characters.’