Thursday, April 10, 2014


I felt that my life was somehow incomplete without the Carlos Kleiber 1979 Der Rosenkavalier.

Gwyneth Jones Marschallin
Brigitte Fassbaender Octavian
Lucia Popp Sophie
Manfred Jungwirth Ochs
Francisco Araiza tenor

I am truly astounded by how much I like Gwyneth Jones as the Marschallin.  She is very natural and sweet and sings like a lyric soprano.  Which she is.  To whom it may concern:  if you don't have any appropriate dramatic coloratura sopranos to sing Lady Macbeth, then don't put the damn thing on.  Don't go pick out some nice lyric soprano and ruin her life.

It is a truly wonderful presentation of the rose.  Lucia Popp describes for us the smell of the silver rose, and Octavian comes over to smell it, too.  This is usually blocked so that Octavian smells the rose and then looks up to realize that he has fallen in love.  Here he bends his head and Sophie bends close, it appears, to smell his hair instead of the rose.  Then they look each other very close in the eyes for the perfect moment.  Wow.

I once saw Brigitte in this role and was disappointed.  I must confess that here she is perfect.

This opera does not successfully update to a later era.  We are required to adore the sainted Kleiber, but for me he covers the singers far too much.  I often assign blame to the conductor, so here it is necessary to assign credit.  Musically all are performing the same opera.  If the conductor is blamed when each sings his own opera, he must also be credited when they all are all so clearly an ensemble.  His rubato is very complete.  What the hell does that mean, you may ask?  It means it's going on all the time and is very sophisticated.  Rhythm is the main thing in Rosenkavalier.  Intro to the third act is a tad chaotic.  IMHO.  This is due to the fast tempos throughout.  I like a schmaltzier Rosenkavalier.

This opera is like a ballet.  With a ballet someone writes down each step and where it goes in the music.  So it is with Rosenkavalier.  Here the black child carries in the small table with chocolate.  Here the servants line the chairs up in a row.  The entire opera is like that.  You could write the blocking into the score.

This film did not convert me to Kleiber, but I can see if you don't like romantic schmaltz, you might prefer this.

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