April 2010 brought a lot of changes to my life and once in a while I am very curious to examine in which way I regard certain things different back then and now a year later.
One of these things are pant roles. First of all – no fascination lost there! Last year I scraped together every piece of literature I could find on Cherubino (Le Nozze di Figaro, Mozart), having rare library experiences full of excitement. One of the most obvious discoveries was that there’s no way around Octavian (Der Rosenkavalier, Strauss) in the matter on pants. But since I sometimes tend to be rejective of unknown things, I stuck to what was familiar, thereby sensing what Beauchmarchais who wrote the play upon which Le nozze is based had already noted hundreds of years before: That Cherubino must be played by a very beautiful woman.
Realizing that there is an extremely high theatre concentration in this region (six (!) houses within 150 km), I decided to exploit the last 12 months of student reductions on tickets. And the decision was easily taken, for they play Der Rosenkavalier in Wiesbaden. After one year of pant role fascination, finally the chance to meet the character of Octavian.
Coincidentally, Le Nozze di Figaro had opened the week before in Giessen – a fabulous production. Solely Cherubino, my all time favorite role, could not fully convince me. Maybe Beaumarchais’ demand could not fully be complied with? (Good Lord, a different hairdo would have done stunning wonders and rendered me speachless as I found out a couple of weeks later.) But I was compensated: It was Susanna (Odilia Vandercruysse) who caught my all-positive attention this evening – with her singing, her acting, her smiling – contagiously cheerful, cordial, ravishing. (For completeness’ sake: Stephan Bootz did a marvellous Figaro!) And of course, Mozart did the rest.
After my very personal Cherubino disappointment (which is not to say that there was a bad performance! To exculpate her, she couldn’t have done anything to prevent this!) I took a look at the Rosenkavalier cast, Merit Ostermann as Octavian, and commented with “alright, I once met her, remember her pretty, she may sing him”. And so she did. Four hours later I walked out of that theater with an indescribable inner enchantment, unable to properly express my emotional state. The great amount of disgust I had felt for Baron Ochs (intentionally emetic I guess) was hundredfold surpassed by my sympathy for Octavian. Ostermann played a most convincing 17-year-old boy when looking serious, but every smile made her male disguise transparent. A wonderful combination. What my eyes saw made goosebumps spread all over my skin, what my ears heard, this soul-touching voice on a lovely composition, made me hold my breath. And talking about not breathing – when it shall all end, then please with this terzett… but since the whole death theme was spared out here, I want to stick to the great sense of vividness that this opera performance conveyed. Even though in a somewhat different, less personally compelling way, also the gorgeous Feldmarschallin indulged the senses, thereby being indispensible for completing my Ocatavian experience.
Only Sophie, I felt, got a little bit lost in strange shoes and hairdo (I will take it symbolically). But as I tried to imply before: in the end, nothing mattered at the beauty of these three voices revealing the magic of this wonderful music.
So, summing up my last two Saturday evenings, sitting for hours (!!) in red velvet plush seats: Susanna should enter the rose garden.