Friday, January 13, 2006

Elisabeth's Marschallin

I try to see or hear the controversy, but I cannot. This film of Der Rosenkavalier is from 1962, the same year I sat in the right aisle of the balcony circle of the San Francisco Opera and transformed into an opera fan. She inhabited the role so completely that there is no way to distinguish between them.

I see for the first time how she orders Octavian around like a child, tells him what to do, where to put his stuff, when his heart will wander from her, and finally when to leave.

Perhaps they mind the fact that she sings the whole thing in a kind of sotto voce. She cared more about controlling the contour of the phrase than she cared about consistency or breadth of tone. I hear it, but I do not mind it. There are no subtitles with this film, but every word is completely understandable, a kind of sung speech that feels as natural as conversation. There is so much to her performance, so much detail, so much truth, so much love, that she becomes that woman.

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