Tag Archives: Rosenkavalier

Bittersweet

Joyce DiDonato on the last scene of the Wernicke production of Der Rosenkavalier: Octavian and Sophie lie on the floor holding their silver rose in their hands. »After the final duet, the ›Mohammad‹ takes the silver rose from the two new young lovers and replaces it with a single red rose. It kills me, because the silver rose is beautiful and will last forever, but it’s dead. The red rose, also beautiful, is LIVING, but will not last forever … bittersweet, ja ja …«

Rose

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Milano impressions II

Today it’s buildings and an amazing woman: Photos of churches, gallery, stations, castello, theater, statues, and Joyce DiDonato in Milano last October. The full photo album is available here. here or via the not-sooo-fancy slide show below.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

On youtube I found a recording of the Der Rosenkavalier production we went to see in La Scala. This is the moment when I could’t help but cry…

Looking at the production photos, I will keep dreaming of being invited to Der Rosenkavalier on day..

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Ode to Joyce

In German, we can use the same word for tall and great – groß.
I once sat at a table with a tall priest. There wasn’t a lot of space and when he tried to get up someone said “yeah, it’s a bit uncomfortable for someone who is groß”. He answered: “I am not a große person, I am only tall”.

Yesterday, I stood next to Joyce DiDonato and I was surprised that she is by far not as tall as she appears on stage. Still, she is groß, a truly great person!

It seems quite odd: going to Italy to see a German opera. Going to see an American walking through the jungle of German s, sch, ch, and ig sounds. But I didn’t choose by language. I chose by heart.

I was thrilled by Der Rosenkavalier (or enflammiert, as Baron Ochs would say) and I admire Joyce DiDonato, so I could either wait for her to come to Giessen (well… Gwyneth Jones cancelled Der Besuch der Alten Dame only six weeks before opening night this year…) or go where I can see the great lady disguised as the young boy.

Fate dictated we had to go to La Scala.

I would say that even our cute little theater here looks more spectacular from the outside than La Scala. Plain stone walls from the outside, small, no foyer full of pomp, narrow corridors. As we still wondered about the underwhelming simplicity of the place, we entered the auditorium. First thought: there cannot be this much space in this building! But ultimately, all the red velvet plush seats, the big circle of boxes and galleries on six floors, the huge curtain, all the gold and red, all this space that would be occupied by sonar waves where ostentatious enough to be overwhelming.

The stage design worked with a lot of mirrors, creating a brilliant palais (and bedroom and park) full of genuine little optical surprises. [Production Photos]

Joyce DiDonato as Octavian, could there been anything more delightful? Her Octavian wasn’t as “dual” as one might expect a pant role to be (as for the gender aspect – but I think that was solely due to too tight pants!), but she played it no less convincing, no less beautiful, no less heart-melting. It felt like I had to drown in Octavian’s emotions. And could there have been a cuter Mariandel? Thumbs up for the “Wiener Schmäh”, I loved it!

For the presentation of the rose, dressed in a white tail-code, Octavian descended a staircase, full of dignity and magic. One of the most beautiful moments of the whole opera, I almost cried. I did cry in the end, Octavian and Sophie finally dared to follow their heart and no one else stopped them (I mean, what are the odds of that happening in opera?). I love the gender play in this opera, but ultimately I didn’t care – there is a higher truth in a soprano and a mezzo (ahh… and this mezzo!!!!) singing this duet:

Spür’ nur dich, spür’ nur dich allein und dass wir beieinander sein! Geht all’s sonst wie ein Traum dahin vor meinem Sinn!
Ist ein Traum, kann nicht wirklich sein, dass wir zwei beieinander sein, beieinand’ für alle Zeit und Ewigkeit!

It is about a feeling that goes beyond gender constructions right into the heart. Again, no words.

So, the evening was great, “great and strange”. Strange, because as soon as the curtain had fallen, people started running out of the theater. In general, the audience didn’t seem very emotional, but leaving before the curtain call? Yeah, there we felt special again – young, enchanted, trying to absorb the magic of every second in this theater with some of the world’s greatest artist on stage who deserved credit for their fantastic show.

Next post more on why people go to the opera – or don’t.As for absorbing the magic: Of course we had inspected the building for the stage entrance and concluded our La Scala experience with a most cordial meeting with a not tall but great person.Finally someone who understands the protocol of test shots! (Auto-focus was in celebrity shock)

Ah, thanks to modern technical appliances, this can be the work of a one-handed, confused photographer shivering in excitement.

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Filed under Chantez, chantez!, Hot Mezzos in Pants, Teatro

Couldn’t Octavian get Susanna?

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.

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