Introducing... Der Rosenkavalier

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Our Introducing… series examines Strauss’s sumptuous Der Rosenkavalier.

In this short video we talk to soprano Kate Royal and director Richard Jones about the captivating figure of the Marschallin.

Need to know

Set in a fantasy 18th century Vienna, Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier is a delightful comedy, gilded in some of the composer’s most exquisite music. ‘I have spent three quiet afternoons drafting…the scenario for an opera,’ wrote librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal. ‘It is full of burlesque situations and characters… almost like a pantomime. There are opportunities in it for lyrical passages, for fun and humour.’

The Field Marshall’s wife, the Marschallin, is in love with the young Count Octavian Rofrano, but knows their liaison cannot last. When the young man meets the beautiful Sophie, the Marschallin understands that she must give him up to her rival, and give her blessing to the marriage that will secure his happiness. But her cousin, the lusty Baron Ochs, also has designs on Sophie and her father’s wealth, and the young lovers must scheme and plot to extricate Sophie from her engagement to the boorish Baron.

A sensuous score Strauss himself compared to ‘melted butter’ runs thick with golden strings and sparkling woodwind, conjuring a fairy-tale-like romance from a plot that blends comedy and tragedy to intoxicating effect.

You can discover more about the opera in our in-depth podcast:

Why this opera

Described as ‘magnificent and witty’ by The Observer, Richard Jones’s lively production captures both the pastel-coloured prettiness of 18th century Vienna and the anarchic, timeless humour of Strauss’s romantic comedy. The result is a riot of sensation and excess – a musical and dramatic feast.

Strauss’s love of the female voice persisted throughout his career, but nowhere is it expressed with more sensuality and tenderness than in the expansive music of Der Rosenkavalier and its heroine – no pert ingénue, but a mature, sexually-confident woman (a theme also explored this season in Samuel Barber’s Vanessa).

The opera’s final love duet, in which Octavian and Sophie celebrate their love in music that’s an ecstatic, sensual release after the opera’s earlier tensions and plot-twists, is one of Der Rosenkavalier’s greatest moments – a celebration of young love, desire and blissful happiness. The lovers’ musical lines mirror and shadow one another, dovetailing and interweaving in instinctive sympathy.

Cast and creative team

L-R: Erin Morley in in Ariadne auf Naxos , Festival 2017. Photo: Robert Workman, Kate Royal in Der Rosenkavalier, Festival 2014, Photo: Bill Cooper, Kate Lindsey in Ariadne auf Naxos, Festival 2013. Photo: Alastair Muir

Hailed in the production’s 2014 debut as ‘the most graceful of Marschallins’ and praised for her ‘silk-smooth voice’, award-winning soprano and Glyndebourne favourite Kate Royal makes a welcome return to lead this revival in one of Strauss’s greatest roles. Also returning to Richard Jones’s colourful and witty production is Glyndebourne Music Director Robin Ticciati, who mines a wealth of detail from Strauss’s lavish orchestral writing, bringing this glittering score into fresh focus with his conducting.

Following her radiant performance as the Composer in 2013’s Ariadne auf Naxos, American mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey dons britches again for her new ‘trouser role’ at Glyndebourne as the Marschallin’s youthful lover Octavian, with soprano Erin Morley (a sparkling Zerbinetta in Ariadne in Festival 2017) as his beloved Sophie.

Glyndebourne regular Brindley Sherratt is the libidinous Baron Ochs – the first of two roles the British bass takes in this year’s Festival, returning later in the summer as King Arkel in Stefan Herheim’s new production of Pelléas et Mélisande.

Things to look out for

Photo: Bill Cooper

Look out for the 41 costume changes in Der Rosenkavalier which need ​15 members of backstage staff to facilitate. The Marschallin has four costume changes, including a one​-​minute quick change into a white floral panier dress which took three costume​​-makers over 120 hours to make. Octavian has seven costumes changes, one an impressive five​-​second quick change as the singer walks around the back of the set to change from boy to girl.

Members’ Ballot

We hope you’re looking forward to making your choices for Festival 2018. Please return your ballot form by post or complete the online form.

Ballot deadlines:

Festival Society Members: Friday 1 December 2017
Associate Members: Monday 15 January 2018

Opportunities to support this production begin at £5,000. If you would like to find out more please contact the Development team on +44(0)1273 815 400 (Monday-Friday, 10.00am-5.00pm) or at

Der Rosenkavalier is supported by The Monument Trust