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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Metropolitan Opera Preview: Der Rosenkavalier

The last run for the Met's classic 1967 production of the Strauss comedy.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Marina Serafin and Alice Coote in a tender moment from Act I of Der Rosenkavalier.
Photo by Jonathan Tischler © 2013 The Metropolitan Opera.
Der Rosenkavalier is a rambunctious Viennese comedy, a bitter-sweet coming of age story that chronicles Octavian's transition from a sweet, adulterous relationship with the Marschallin (Marina Serafin) to eventual marriage to Sophie von Faninal, a 15-year-old ingenue played by Erin Morley. (She is a late replacement for Mojca Erdmann, who is recovering from pneumonia.) Edward Gardner conducts.

Elina Garança was scheduled to sing Octavian, the energetic, cross-dressing 17-year old title character of Strauss' most beloved opera--but the Latvian diva has withdrawn due to pregnancy. Her replacement for the first three performances is mezzo-soprano Alice Coote. Daniela Sindram will sing the role in the December performances.

No comedy exists without a villain, and Rosenkavalier's is Baron Ochs (Peter Rose) the swaggering, boorish would-be Lothario who tries to enter Viennese society with all the subtlety of his namesake. Ochs' attempts to woo Sophie drive the plot forward, and provide much of the laughter alongside the sentiment and gorgeous waltz music.

One of the messages of Hugo von Hoffmannsthal's thoroughly remarkable libretto for Der Rosenkavalier is that all good things eventually come to an end. This revival is slotted to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the opera's first performances at the Met,. s the last run of this beloved production, which bowed at the "new" Met in 1969. It will be replaced by a new production that will open an upcoming season--most likely 2016-17.

Der Rosenkavalier opens Nov. 22.


Recording Recommendations:

Vienna Philharmonic cond. Herbert von Karajan (Deutsche Grammophon, 1981)
Marschallin: Anna Tomowa-Sintow
Octavian: Agnes Baltsa
Sophie: Janet Perry
Ochs: Kurt Moll
This is Herbert von Karajan's second major-label Rosenkavalier a classic live recording made at the Salzburg Festival in 1980. The Vienna Philharmonic plays magnificently, and Anna Tomowa-Sintow is radiant as the Marschallin. Comic bass Kurt Moll is a very funny Ochs. There are standard stage cuts.



Dresden Staatskapelle cond. Bernard Haitink (EMI, 1991)
Marschallin: Kiri Te Kanawa
Octavian: Anne-Sofie von Otter
Sophie: Barbara Hendricks
Ochs: Kurt Rydl
This EMI recording features the Dresden forces, one of Germany's finest orchestras, and a marvelous trio of leading ladies. Kiri Te Kanawa shows why she was the definitive Marschallin of her generation, and Anne-Sofie von Otter is a disarming, mannish Octavian. Kurt Rydl's Viennese accent makes him a marvelous Baron Ochs. Bernard Haitink is not quite as dramatic as Karajan, but the Dutch conductor leads a sensitive, nuanced rendition of the score.

Tickets for Der Rosenkavalier are available at MetOperaFamily.Org, by calling (212) 362-6000, or at the box office starting August 11.

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.