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Glyndebourne’s 80th-anniversary season opens with Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier, not seen at Glyndebourne since 1982, in a new staging by Richard Jones, with Robin Ticciati, the company’s new Music Director, conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
After shocking the opera world with Salome and Elektra, Richard Strauss seduced it with Der Rosenkavalier, ﬁrst performed in 1911. He and librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal fashioned the most beguiling of all romantic farces, its nostalgic ﬂavour crystallised in the elegant, sensuous waltzes which pervade and deﬁne the score.
The married, middle-aged Marschallin chooses her young lover Octavian as Rose Cavalier, bearer of the ceremonial silver rose to Sophie, the teenage ﬁancée of Baron Ochs, the Marschallin’s crude country cousin. But Octavian and Sophie fall in love at ﬁrst sight, setting off a chain of boisterous comic intrigues that gradually yield to a bittersweet meditation on the evanescence of love and time.
The opera’s hero – the Rose Cavalier – was modelled on Mozart’s Cherubino and tailored ‘for a graceful girl dressed up as a man,’ as Hofmannsthal wrote. Poised between youth and maturity, Octavian’s voice hovers between soprano and mezzo, that timbre so perfect at embodying adolescence and androgyny. Strauss, famously enamoured of the female voice, lavished his most sumptuous music on Octavian and the two sopranos who complete the Rosenkavalier love triangle. Irish mezzo-soprano Tara Erraught makes her role debut as Octavian, while Kate Royal, who began her career in the Glyndebourne Chorus, returns in her role debut as the Marschallin, and Teodora Gheorghiu makes her Glyndebourne debut as Sophie.
A new production for the 2014 Festival
Sung in German with English supertitles
Listen to the Der Rosenkavalier podcast:
Supported by The Monument Trust
Filming sponsored by The Gidlow-Jackson Family
By kind permission of Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers Ltd
The Marschallin and her young lover Octavian have spent the night together. The Marschallin’s servant Mohammed arrives with breakfast and Octavian hides. When loud voices are heard just outside the room, the Marschallin believes that her husband has returned unexpectedly and Octavian hides again. He reappears disguised as a chambermaid, ‘Mariandel’, just before the sudden arrival of Baron Ochs, the Marschallin’s cousin, who has come to discuss his engagement to young Sophie von Faninal, daughter of a wealthy merchant who has been recently elevated to the nobility. Ochs asks the Marschallin to recommend a young man to deliver the traditional silver engagement rose to Sophie. She suggests Octavian, showing Ochs his picture, and Ochs, noticing his resemblance to ‘Mariandel’, assumes she is Octavian’s illegitimate sister. Ochs propositions ‘Mariandel’, who evades him and flees
as soon as possible.
The Marschallin holds her morning levee. An Italian tenor sings to her while Ochs works on his marriage contract with the Marschallin’s notary. An Italian scandal-monger, Valzacchi, tries to sell the Marschallin the latest scandal sheets. Interrupting
the tenor’s song, Ochs commands the notary to demand a dowry from Sophie’s family. Valzacchi and his niece Annina offer their services to Ochs.
After her visitors leave, the Marschallin recalls her own early marriage and muses on her fleeting youth and the inconstancy of men. Octavian returns in his own clothing, and she tells him that one day he will leave her, which he resists. She sends Octavian away but then realises that she has forgotten to kiss him goodbye. She sends servants after him, but he is already gone. The Marschallin summons Mohammed to take the silver rose to Octavian to deliver to Sophie.
Faninal and his daughter Sophie await the arrival of the rose bearer. As her duenna Marianne reports on the approach of Octavian, Sophie worries over her impending marriage to a man she has never met, Octavian arrives and presents the silver rose to Sophie, and the two youngsters become infatuated.
After a conversation chaperoned by Marianne, Sophie and Octavian are joined by Ochs and Faninal. Though they have never officially met, Ochs is overly familiar with Octavian and goes on to inspect Sophie like property. Ochs’s followers chase Faninal’s staff, causing an uproar. Octavian promises to help Sophie, and the two embrace. They are discovered by Valzacchi and Annina, who report it to Ochs, who is merely amused, considering Octavian no threat. Octavian challenges Ochs to a duel. In the fight, Ochs is slightly wounded but cries bloody murder. Sophie tells her father she will never marry Ochs. But Faninal insists, threatening to send Sophie to a convent, and ejects Octavian. Ochs, left alone, is cheering himself with a drink when Annina arrives bearing a letter for Ochs from ‘Mariandel’ requesting a rendezvous.
Valzacchi and Annina have transferred their allegiance to Octavian and help him prepare a trap for Baron Ochs at the site of his imminent meeting with ‘Mariandel’. Ochs arrives and attempts to seduce the chambermaid, but is unnerved by her resemblance to Octavian. The antics of Octavian’s accomplices make Ochs think he is hallucinating. Then Annina, in disguise, enters with a gaggle of children, claiming that Ochs is her husband and the children’s’ father. The police arrive and, to avoid a scandal, Ochs claims that ‘Mariandel’ is his fiancée Sophie. Octavian secretly lets the Police Inspector in on the plot. Faninal arrives, irate to be embroiled in such a scandal, and he sends for the real Sophie. When the Marschallin enters, the Police Inspector recognises her, having once served as her husband’s orderly. Octavian emerges, in his own clothes, and the Marschallin sends the police and all the others away. Ochs finally comprehends the truth about the Marschallin and Octavian/Mariandel. He tries to maintain his engagement to Sophie, but the Marschallin insists that he leave Vienna gracefully. Ochs departs, pursued by creditors.
The Marschallin, Sophie and Octavian are now alone. As Octavian is caught between the two women, the Marschallin understands that the day she predicted has come. She leaves to talk with Faninal. Sophie and Octavian enjoy a moment alone before leaving together. Mohammed runs in to retrieve a lost article of clothing.
Conductor Robin Ticciati
Director Richard Jones
Set Designer Paul Steinberg
Costume Designer Nicky Gillibrand
Movement Director Sarah Fahie
Lighting Designer Mimi Jordan Sherin
Octavian Tara Erraught
The Marschallin Kate Royal
Baron Ochs auf Lerchenau Lars Woldt
Sophie Teodora Gheorghiu
Herr von Faninal Michael Kraus
Marianne Leitmetzerin Miranda Keys
Valzacchi Christopher Gillett
Annina Helene Schneiderman
Notary Gwynne Howell
Italian Singer Andrej Dunaev
Innkeeper Robert Wörle
Police Commissioner Scott Conner
"...Richard Jones, the operatic individualist par excellence, who has given this great work the production it deserves.”
Rated 5* by What's On Stage
"This is a Rosenkavalier for today"
Rated 5* by Music OMH
“The visuals - notably the sets by Paul Steinberg, Nicky Gillibrand’s costumes and Mimi Jordan Sherin’s lighting - are extraordinarily accomplished, adding to the wit and atmosphere of the whole presentation.”
Read it at The Stage
“The performance is so deftly and entertainingly executed that not even the stuffiest traditionalist could object.”
Rated 4* by the Financial Times