Richard Strauss's masterpiece comes to the NNTT. Directing in his NNTT debut will be Denis Krief, who has worked primarily in the theatres of Italy and Germany. The cast is loaded with singers who specialize in German opera. This will be the first full-fledged production in Japan of Die Frau ohne Schatten since 1992.
Before the opera begins: In the mythical empire of the Southeastern Islands, a gazelle captured by the Emperor has turned into a woman, and he makes her his wife. Now Empress, she is actually the daughter of Keikobad, king of the spirit realm. Keikobad has decried that unless the Empress gains a shadow within twelve months of her marriage, the Emperor will be turned to stone.
The palace. The Messenger of der Geisterbote (B) comes and asks die Amme (A) whether die Kaiserin has acquired a shadow. Der Kaiser arrives and tells die Amme he is leaving on a three-day hunting trip, and goes to search for his favorite falcon. When die Kaiserin (S) comes in, des Falken (S) reappears and tells die Kaiserin that if she cannot acquire a shadow, der Kaiser will turn to stone. Die Amme suggests they descend to the mortal world, where they can get a shadow. Die Amme and die Kaiserin descend together with a plan to acquire a shadow from sein Weib (S). She and her husband, Barak, der F ä rber (Br), have no children. Die Amme talks to sein Weib, who mulls over whether or not to sell her shadow. It is agreed that die Kaiserin and die Amme will work as sein Weib's servants for three days. Barak returns home and is dismayed at sein Weib's suddenly cool attitude.
Barak and sein Weib are clashing. Led by des Falken, der Kaiser finds die Kaiserin and die Amme. Though he realizes die Kaiserin has lied to him and descended to the mortal world, he controls his anger and leaves. Die Amme tries to get sein Weib to forsake Barak, so that she will sell her shadow. But Barak will not give up on her. Die Kaiserin is troubled by the misfortune she has brought upon the humans. Just before the three days are up, sein Weib lies to Barak, telling him she has been unfaithful and sold her shadow. Stunned, Barak looks at her in the light and sees that she indeed has no shadow; he moves to strike her. Die Kaiserin decides she cannot take sein Weib's shadow. Sein Weib calms down and confesses to her husband that she has lied. Suddenly, the earth opens up and the two become separated as they tumble into the depths.
Down in the spirit realm. Barak and sein Weib are separated and unaware of each other's presence; both express their deep love for the other. Die Kaiserin and die Amme arrive at Kaikobad's temple. Die Kaiserin enters alone to appeal to her father. Die Amme is condemned to stay in the mortal world. Inside the temple is der Kaiser, who has turned to stone but for his eyes. Die Kaiserin wants a shadow, but cannot bear to take it at the expense of Barak and sein Weib's happiness. Finally, Kaikobad is moved by her gallantness; der Kaiser is turned back into a man, and die Kaiserin acquires a shadow. Barak and sein Weib are reunited and the two embrace, sein Weib's shadow restored.