Rosenkavalier at the Royal Opera House
What a glorious night of opera. Of course, the music to Richard Strauss’s Rosenkavalier is full of the grandest of liqueur. It was written in 1911 as one of the greatest of social comedies, with a reflective libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. It was first conducted at the Royal Opera House in 1913 by Thomas Beecham.
This co-production is directed by Robert Carsen, who gives us a lively 3 acts updated to the turn of the 20th century, with a traditionally large bed in the first act. A stunning opening to the second act with 2 large cannons on stage, depicting the grandeur of the Faninal home. A bordello with rather a lot going on was the set in the third act, which was visually stunning.
Musically, it was extravagantly and lovingly conducted by Andris Nelsons, who not only got the best out of the orchestra, but enabled us all to understand with real clarity the most poignant moments in the opera. It was particularly gratifying to hear his very slow interpretation of the emotional climax of the opera in the trio ‘Marie Theres! I hab mir’s gelobt’ as the singing and interaction between the 3 great artists shone with great clarity.
The great American soprano, Renee Fleming, who was supposedly singing her last Marschallin, was in glorious fine voice. Why, at the age of 57, with such purity of sound, she is giving up her main role, is a surprise. Let’s hope not.
Her Octavian, the wonderful British lyric mezzo soprano, Alice Coote, occasionally (especially on first nights) suffers from acute nerves, but here she sang at full voice in a moving portrayal of the role and her final duet with the fabulous soprano of the Sophie of Sophie Bevan, was truly tear jerking.
The young English bass, Mathew Rose, sang and acted a humorous Baron Ochs and Jochen Schmeckenbecher sung an elegant portrayal of Von Faninal. Overall a glorious night, not least because of the glory of the music itself.
With kind regards,
20 December 2016