The great mezzo-soprano Irene Dalis (above) found her most memorable role as The Nurse in Richard Strauss's DIE FRAU OHNE SCHATTEN; I was fortunate enough to have seen her in this opera twice at The Met, and both times she simply dazzled in the fiendishly difficult vocal writing whilst creating a vivid theatrical portrait of this mercurial creature.
The Nurse above all is devoted - to the point of obsession - to her charge: the half-human/half-spirit Empress, daughter of the mysterious and omniscient Keikobad. In the opera's opening scene, the Nurse is visited by Keikobad's messenger. The Empress has been married to the Emperor, a mere mortal, for one year, but as she still does not cast a shadow - the sign of her ability to bear children - Keikobad plans to re-claim her for the spirit world in three days. The Nurse is delighted, as she very much hates living among humans and longs to return to Keikobad's realm.
The Nurse asks what will become of the Emperor after the Empress is taken by her father; "Er wird zu Stein!" says the Messenger: "He will be turned to stone!" This prospect gives the Nurse even greater satisfaction: "He will be turned to stone!" she repeats..."There do I recognize Keikobad, and bow before him!"