Sun, 16. Feb 2020, 18:00
Comedy for music in three acts by Richard Strauss
The Viennese aristocracy are no strangers to family feuds: boorish Baron Ochs auf Lerchenau interrupts the morning tête-à-tête between his cousin, the Marschallin, and her young lover Octavian, to ask for her help with his wedding plans, which are steered more by financial gain than love. Ochs does not suspect that Octavian himself, who is chosen to deliver the engagement rose, will eventually fall in love with the bride.
After his dramatic one-act works »Salome« and »Elektra«, which were based on ancient myths, Richard Strauss was drawn to lighter, more cheerful material for his next opera in the style of Mozart’s comic operas. His change of direction was embraced by Hugo von Hofmannsthal whose libretto created an artificial, rococo Vienna with customs and dialects as convincing as they are imaginary, which Strauss refined with anachronistic waltzes. This fantasy Vienna, bursting with joie de vivre, wit and traditional class boundaries, but which also bears traces of depression and morbidity, is not merely a reflection of the 18th century but also of the declining belle époque. Strauss’ score offers the full range of rich orchestral timbres with an unrestrained indulgence that culminates in the unsurpassed closing section: yet deep ruptures also appear. Only a few years before the collapse of the Habsburg monarchy, »The Rosenkavalier« is a swansong to an entire epoch.