Great Performances at the Met: Der Rosenkavalier

Great Performances at the Met: Der Rosenkavalier

Sun, 09/03/2017 - 12:00pm - 3:00pm

Renée Fleming and Elīna Garanča

Credit: Courtesy of Kristian Schuller/Metropolitan Opera

The Met’s first new production since 1969 of Strauss’s rich, romantic masterpiece stars Renée Fleming in one of her signature roles as the Marschallin.

<--break- />Fleming plays opposite Elīna Garanča as Octavian, the impulsive young title character, on Great Performances at the Met Sunday, September 3 at 12 p.m. on WXXI-TV. Conducted by Sebastian Weigle and directed by Robert Carsen, whose most recent Met production was the hit 2013 staging of Falstaff, the cast also includes Günther Groissböck as Baron Ochs, Erin Morley as Sophie, Markus Brück as Faninal, and Matthew Polenzani as the Italian Singer.

The opera premiered in Dresden, 1911. Set in an idealized Vienna of the past, Strauss’s most popular opera concerns a wise woman of the world who is involved with a much younger lover but ultimately forced to accept the laws of time, giving him up to a pretty young heiress. Hofmannsthal’s fascinating libretto deftly combines comedy, dreamy nostalgic fantasy, genuine human drama, and light but striking touches of philosophy and social commentary. Strauss’s magnificent score, likewise, works on several levels, combining the refinement of Mozart with the epic grandeur of Wagner.

Richard Strauss (1864–1949) composed an impressive body of orchestral works and songs before devoting the second half of his long and productive career to the stage. His 1909 opera Elektra marked his first collaboration with Viennese author and poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal (1874–1929), who would go on to write five other librettos for Strauss over the following 20 years, in one of the most remarkable partnerships in theater history.   

The opera is originally set in Vienna in the 1740s. Genuine historical references are merged with fictitious inventions (like the “noble custom” of the presentation of the silver rose to a fiancée, which never actually existed) and anachronisms (like the Viennese Waltz, which did not yet exist at that time). It’s a mixture that creates a seductive mythical landscape, a ceremonious and impossibly beautiful Vienna-that-never-was. The Met’s new production moves the setting to the last years of the Habsburg Empire.   

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