Saturday, August 23, 2014

Der Rosenkavalier

Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier usually looks like this:

This is the time of Mozart who as a child played for the Empress Maria Theresa.  Or perhaps we should say it used to look like this.

Now in the Strauss year this year in Malmö, Sweden, it looks like this:

With vivid colors that suggest but do not evoke a period. Nothing really looks like this. 

At Glyndebourne it looks like this:

Instead of Faninal's home we are at his factory, it seems.

And finally at Salzburg we have this:

Conductor:  Franz Welser-Möst
Production:  Harry Kupfer
The Feldmarschallin:  Krassimira Stoyanova
Octavian:  Sophie Koch
Sophie:  Mojca Erdmann
Marianne Leitmetzerin:  Silvana Dussmann
Annina:  Wiebke Lehmkuhl
Baron Ochs auf Lerchenau:  Günther Groissböck
Herr von Faninal:  Adrian Eröd
Valzacchi:  Kresimir Spicer
A Singer:  Stefan Pop

There are three scenes in RK.  Let's begin with the bedroom scene.  Traditionally there is one large room where servants and people desiring favors of the Marschallin enter freely.  The implication is that the Marschallin completely trusts her servants to protect her unconventional life from her husband whom she is afraid of.  There are tables and chairs for people to sit.

In Malmö the cart and the bed are the only furniture, and everyone makes himself at home by sitting on the bed as though it were a giant brothel.

In Glyndebourne there is no bed, but there are a long white sofa and a bathroom.

And in Salzburg they have gone for monumental.  The Marschallin lives in a suite.  There is a room with a bed and a view of monumental buildings against the back wall.  A door separates the bedroom from the reception room where the guests enter to make their requests.  Very civilized.  Mohammet leaves the breakfast outside the door.  The other servants also enter only the reception room.  Only Ochs actually enters the bedroom and acts like he lives there, which works well with the dialog.  If we are to believe in a relatively modern setting, we must see relatively modern behavior. 

Is the Austrian Empress gone forever?  Royalty in the German speaking countries ended after the first world war, so perhaps that defines the end of possibilities.  Or perhaps we may count capitalists as royalty.  The long tradition of beginning with the two lovers in bed together also seems to be fading.

Salzburg is the first time--I'm always looking for personal firsts--I have seen a Mariandel try to make the bed.  Octavian spends the entire scene moving pillows from place to place, sliding the blanket around and still doesn't manage to make the bed look made.

This is the most presentable Ochs I've seen.  He does the country accent well.

I wish I thought anything mattered but the singing and the acting.   Franz Welser-Möst also conducted the DVD of Rosenkavalier I reviewed here.  I complained about him in Arabella, but I have been liking him more lately.  For singing this isn't my favorite, but when you were raised on Schwarzkopf, no one is.

I would like to see Harteros sing the Marschallin with a completely German cast.  Information from Wikipedia about the accents and dialects in Rosenkavalier:


Hofmannsthal's libretto is a combination of different forms of the German language. Members of the nobility speak in very refined language, often archaic (set to the time of the opera) and very courteous. In more intimate circles they use a more familiar style of speech (du). For instance, the conversations between Octavian and the Marschallin in the first act use the familiar "you" but switch back and forth between more formal speech (Sie) and the familiar du, as well as the intermediate (and now obsolete) Er.
The language used by Baron Ochs is flamboyant at best and, although refined, makes use of non-German words such as his expression corpo di Bacco! (meaning "by Bacchus' body!" in Italian). Some programmes even have a glossary section. The language used by Octavian when impersonating Mariandel, and by other non-noble characters, is basically Austrian dialect, impossible to understand by a non-German speaker. The German used by the Italians, Valzacchi and Annina, is also very broken and mixed with an Italian accent, something planned by the authors for these characters.


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