Photos: © Robert Millard
/ with permission of Los Angeles Opera
in the manner of a tone-poem vividly describes their flight to earth,
during which the scene changes, revealing a riot of colors dripping
fresh out of a dyer's vat. Indeed, the dyer Barak (Wolfgang
Brendel, bass-baritone) lives and works here with his wife
(Linda Watson, soprano) and his three deformed brothers
- one-eyed (high bass), one-armed (bass), and hunchback (tenor). And
it is into this poor dyer's hovel that contains everything the Nurse
despises that she and the noble Empress descend.
over two years of a childless marriage, the Dyer's wife has banished
all thought of parenthood and pleads with Barak to do the same.
It is her shadow that the Nurse attempts to buy for the Empress
in exchange for a grand life of riches and the amorous service of
a handsome young man - magically served up to her by the Nurse.
Persuaded, the Dyer's wife strikes a deal with the Nurse and the
Empress who agree to pretend they are her cousins come to serve
Barak's household for three days during which she is to relinquish
her shadow. The matrimonial bed instantly splits into two - to Barak's
accepting bewilderment. Observing all these the Empress feels sympathy
for the good-natured Barak - and humanity as a whole.
a fit of hysteria, the Dyer's wife falsely confesses to infidelity
(though nothing has happened between her and the youth), selling
her shadow, and renouncing motherhood forever. Enraged, Barak's
instinct is to kill her. But nature intervenes - a quake during
which they are separated and swallowed up by the earth! Meanwhile,
in the in-between world, the Emperor suspects (wrongly) that the
Empress has betrayed him on her journey to the world of humans.
He is compelled to kill her, but can't bring himself to commit the
act. The Empress, now infused with compassion, refuses to take the
shadow, knowing full well that it would condemn its original owner
to certain death by Barak's own hand.
- © GCajipe / FanFaire