Dyer's Wife

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(Strauss: Die Frau ohne Schatten). Sop. She has been married to Barak, the Dyer, for over two years but they have not had any children. They have a humble home in which Barak's three brothers also live. She is something of a shrew, but she loves her husband. While he is away selling his cloths, she is visited by the Empress and her Nurse. The Empress is anxious to acquire a shadow—the symbol of fertility—and her Nurse suggests that the Dyer's Wife sells her shadow to the Empress in return for a life of luxury. She is tempted by the thought of an easier life, and at one point tells her husband that she has sold it, even though she has not. He is so distressed at the thought of not having a family that he threatens to kill her. She then admits this was not the truth. She and Barak are separated by supernatural forces and each sings of their feelings. When the Empress realizes the distress it will cause if she takes the Wife's shadow, she cancels the Nurse's suggestion. Barak and his Wife are reunited and they hear the voices of their unborn children. Aria: Barak, ich hab’ es nicht getan! (‘Barak, I did not do it!’); duet (with Barak): Dir angetraut (‘Wedded to you’). Created (1919) by Lotte Lehmann. Since the première this has been a favourite role for Strauss sopranos, among whom have been Eva von der Osten, Viorica Ursuleac, Rosa Pauly, Marianne Schech, Leonie Rysanek, Christel Goltz, Elisabeth Höngen, Birgit Nilsson, Inge Borkh, Christa Ludwig, Gwyneth Jones (see note in entry for the Empress), Hildegard Behrens, Pauline Tinsley, Eva Marton, and Christine Brewer.

Subjects: Opera.

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