This is the moment in Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier, live in HD from the Metropolitan Opera, at the end of Act I when Renée Fleming looks out into the auditorium and thinks this is perhaps the last time. The look of this scene resembles Blenheim Palace, the home of the Duke of Marlborough.
Count Octavian Rofrano.....Elīna Garanča
Princess von Werdenberg...Renée Fleming
Baron Ochs...................Günther Groissböck
Italian Singer.............Matthew Polenzani
The time has been moved to 1912 when the opera was first performed, just before WWI. All the men are soldiers. There were many special moments in this Rosenkavalier, but I especially liked when the Marschallin sings "Wenn ich auch an ein Maedel errinnern, die frisch aus dem Kloster bis in die heiligen..." and she goes over to the chest containing the rose, takes it out and remembers that once the rose arrived for her. I have never seen this business before. I saw my first Renée Fleming Marschallin in 2000 in San Francisco and find her characterization was deeper and more serious than before. I also loved that at the end she takes the arm of the police sergeant, moving on to her next lover it would seem. I can only describe her as magnificent.
Most of the details of the staging are acceptable if not always traditional, but at the end is a surprise. In Act I a large, odd looking green hat appears. Then at the very end of the opera when everyone has left the stage, an army rises up with someone in the center wearing the green hat. We must assume this is the otherwise not seen Feldmarschall being mowed down in battle. Curious. This could easily be done without.
I didn't agree with every detail, but the richness of texture of this production filled my heart to overflowing. Der Rosenkavalier holds a special place in my heart, and this one has risen to the top.
Our Ochs, Günther Groissböck, was Ochs in Salzburg in 2014. He adds many layers of depth to this character.
And our Italian singer was none other than Enrico Caruso.
This moment in the second act was also perfection, though of the more traditional sort. Octavian leans over to smell the Persian attar of roses, looks up at Sophie and instantly falls in love. I first heard Erin Morley in King Roger in Santa Fe where she was wonderful. Her Sophie is much more than a mere soubrette and adds soaring lines. Her acting is also more complex than usual.
When I saw her in duets with Anna Netrebko, I did not imagine that our Latvian mezzo Elīna Garanča would turn out to be such a wonderful actress. She was simply spectacular. I'm having a hard time finding the words for something that exceeded my wildest imaginings. She threw herself so gleefully into Mariandel.
We finished with a spectacularly glorious trio. Thank you, Peter Gelb, Metropolitan Opera, Günther Groissböck, Erin Morley, Renée Fleming, and most of all Elīna Garanča for a wonderful memory.