Der Rosenkavalier

Richard Strauss
Royal Opera,
Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
(2004)

John Schlesinger's vintage 1984 production of Der Rosenkavalier returned to the archives at Covent Garden at the close of its fifth revival on Saturday 30th April with an enchanting final performance under Sir Charles Mackerrass.

A company headed by Dame Felicity Lott as the Marschallin, Angelika Kirschlager (Octavian), Simone Nold (Sophie) and Kurt Rydl (Ochs) demonstrated once more that if this is not the most sparkling account of this brilliant comedy for music, it will not leave a dry eye in the packed house.

Schlesinger's production is noted for spectacularly fine settings and rich costumes, though it is doubtful whether such an entertainment could survive at all without both. Over the years the production has featured Solti, Haitink, Davis and Thielmann at the rostrum and such distinguished presences as Te Kanawa, Bonney, Haugland, Lott, Tomowa-Sintow, von Otter and Moll in the famous roles.

Considering then the demands and achievements of Richard Strauss's extraordinary score, the twenty years of this production alone represent some singing. To one nearby who had never seen Strauss let alone Rosenkavalier, the experience was "magical"!

Kirschlager's Octavian is among the most dashing in recent times, adding an extra dimension to this brief encounter between energetic youth and fading benefactress. Mezzo and soprano combine most powerfully as they argue over the passing of time. Nold's lighter, soaring soprano is at its most beautiful at the presentation of the rose though, while the brilliant Act III finale seems slow to rise, when it does it is as superb as ever.

Reviewer: Kevin Catchpole