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Comedy for music in three acts (1911)

Hardly anyone knows the atmosphere of Hofmannsthal's "Rosenkavalier"-Vienna better and can put himself in its place more intensely than the Austrian multimedia artist André Heller, who is working on his first major opera with this production (collaboration with director: Wolfgang Schilly). The stage design is created by the internationally acclaimed painter Xenia Hausner, the costumes are the work of fashion shooting star Arthur Arbesser. The opulent decor is inspired by Belle Époque and Art Nouveau. The Staatskapelle Berlin plays under the musical direction of its honorary conductor Zubin Mehta. Camilla Nylund can be heard as Feldmarschallin, the role of Baron Ochs auf Lerchenau is played by Günther Groissböck. Michèle Losier and Nadine Sierra make their role debuts as Octavian and as Sophie.

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.
© Staatsoper Berlin

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