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Rosenkavalier Insight evening at ROH


Geoff
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I hope you get the chance to see a traditional production as well Alison (or perhaps just a DVD of one). Rosenkavalier is such a subtle, well thought through and modern piece it just needs putting on to work: Strauss knew what he was doing by only granting the rights to companies which undertook to reproduce the original designs, for example.

 

Carsen's show is intelligent but imho not always usefully so (I also have some problems on the musical front but you didn't ask about that). Carsen doesn't kill the work but his ideas don't for me add as much as they distract. But maybe they work well for a first timer, what did you think?

Edited by Geoff
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Oh please, go ahead and deal with the musical side too, Geoff - I didn't mean that to be left out.

 

I had problems with this one, I must admit - and probably standing for 4 1/2 hours doesn't help, but I've done that for Lohengrin before and been transfixed, so it is possible.  But I have to admit that boredom set in in several places, and I hadn't expected that, because I usually love Strauss - but then I'd not even heard the opera all the way through before that.  It certainly wasn't quite what I'd expected.

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I feel for you standing Alison (isn't Rosenkavalier actually longer than Loyengrin?) And very sad to hear you had some bored patches at your first Rosenkavalier, the piece (when it works) should knock one out the first time one sees it. But given my own reactions, I am not entirely surprised. Here are a couple of thoughts.

 

First, contrasting critics (if only to make the point that people have had very different responses):-

 

http://www.theartsdesk.com/opera/der-rosenkavalier-royal-opera-0

 

http://boulezian.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/der-rosenkavalier-royal-opera-17.html

 

What about me? Well, whisper who dares I am decreasingly interested in Renee Fleming, so when the only date I could manage was the second cast, I didn't mind (although Nr 2 Marschallin did not impress at the Insight evening) As luck would have it I found myself sitting next to an occasional writer on opera and his wife, who had seen the other cast, so they could compare and contrast with authority.

 

I thought that musically it was good in parts, rather than overwhelming (which is a pity, as when it works, Rosenkavalier is overwhelming). Overall the orchestra delivered a better third act then either of the other two, very odd this. In Vienna, where I could see Rosenkavalier a lot, and very cheaply, I sometimes left before Act 3, indeed once even before Act 2, not because the performances weren't good but because I didn't need more than the masterpiece that is Act 1. But at ROH Acts 1 and 2 both had problems whereas Act 3 sounded wonderful, as well as most illuminating: Nelsons (who gave us a magnificent Elektra not long ago) found the Beethovian flourish in Act 3 repeatedly interesting, which was actually fine; delivered a truly symphonic opening (the opening of Act 3 is often actually rather dull); and, perhaps most intriguing, discovered some Mahlerian yiddling around the Marschallin's dismissal of Ochs.

 

As to the singers, Matthew Rose did really very well indeed, although the Sophie was perhaps the most finished of the cast (surprising really as I don't think of Bevan in the top world league but she sounded like she is now, in fact I have rarely heard that thankless part better sung). B Marschallin was better than I feared after the Insight evening (but not overwhelming); the Octavian distractingly small in height (rather like Tom Cruise doing it, why would a socially powerful 35-year old choose a sixth former half her size as her lover?) who sang, so said my neighbours, better than Alice Coote. Overall I am not with Mark Berry on the diction: perhaps my hearing is going (there are other indications) but I found most of the cast indistinct, a pity given this most literate of libretti (the surtitles were remarkably good, though, a delight to read as well as accurate).

 

The amphitheatre audience coughed like uninterested hicks, as if they were barely listening, but everyone cheered at the end as if it had been a great event (it was better than the A cast, my neighbours said). Yet somehow it didn't leave me with the feeling one should have. That overwhelming thing again. Perhaps the piece really does need a commanding Marschallin rather than the lead from a US tv drama. I might go back this month, just to listen.

Edited by Geoff
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Probably the most telling thing about this production is that after the regular turkeys served up over the last few seasons, this one felt comparatively like a classic.

Fleming, never the best of actresses, can still deliver a better performance musically than Domingo's recent efforts although twenty years down the line who knows?.

Octavian is always a difficult trouser role to pull off. Did anyone see Tara Erraught a couple of years back?

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