A single remaining, inexpensive amphitheatre seat tempted me to venture to Die Frau ohne Schatten at the Royal Opera House yesterday afternoon. The reviews were right - truly well sung and played, and this was reward enough. But, oh dear, the piece itself! The translucent Empress goes along with a plan to steal the shadow of a human so that she herself can become human. It then takes 3 hours of music for her to realise this plan is not acceptable; she renounces the scheme, but is redeemed anyway. The human couple go through agonies of torture in the meantime, but finally everyone starts producing babies like mad, and all is OK.

Really? I'm not a Strauss expert, but I wondered how much WWI had got to do with all this nonsense (it was written during the war). At first it's OK for Germany to steal everyone else's stuff, but (when defeated) renounce the claim that was never theirs by right, and then everything's ok again.

The story is pretentious and the treatment of the human couple is patronising. The relationship between the supernatural and the human worlds is pretty silly and very contrived. The Magic Flute is a bit silly & contrived too, but it's dressed up as pantomime, bundled with fun and joy: Die Frau is cloaked in seriousness and philosophy and bundled with anxiety.

Come up with something like this, and, as a writer, you would feel anxious!

Nice music, shame about the plot.