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Your Reaction: What did you think of Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier?

A round-up of reviews and responses to Robert Carsen's sumptuous new Royal Opera production.

By Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media))

19 December 2016 at 2.48pm | 12 Comments

Press reviews:
Arts Desk ★★★★
Bachtrack ★★★★
Evening Standard ★★★★
Guardian ★★★★
Telegraph ★★★★
The Times ★★★★
The Stage ★★★

What did you think of Der Rosenkavalier?
Share your thoughts via the comments below.

Der Rosenkavalier runs from 17 December 2016 – 24 January 2017. Tickets are still available.

The production is a co-production with the Metropolitan Opera, New York, Teatro Regio, Turin, and Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires, and is given with generous philanthropic support from The Monument Trust, Mrs Aline Foriel-Destezet, Simon and Virginia Robertson, Susan and John Singer, the Friends of Covent Garden and The Royal Opera House Endowment Fund.

By Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media))

19 December 2016 at 2.48pm

This article has been categorised Opera and tagged Alice Coote, by Robert Carsen, Der Rosenkavakier, Matthew Rose, Production, Renee Fleming, Reviews, Richard Strauss, Sophie Bevan, your reaction

This article has 12 comments

  1. Andrew Luff responded on 19 December 2016 at 4:32pm Reply

    Two comments: Orchestra MUCH too loud. For those in the stalls the very intrusive footlights cut off the view of all singers' legs just below the knee. Bizarre.

  2. Giulia Breakwell responded on 19 December 2016 at 11:40pm Reply

    This article has tempted me to try and get to see der Rosenkavalier, I so love being in The Royal Opera House !

  3. Ian Sharman responded on 20 December 2016 at 6:57pm Reply

    We saw the performance on the opening night and loved it. It was simply stunning and was one of the most powerful and moving performances I have ever experienced at any opera house.
    Alice Coote, Renee Fleming and Sophie Bevan were simply outstanding.

  4. Stephen Diviani responded on 21 December 2016 at 11:08am Reply

    Thought the production was tremendous. Slightly disappointed by the singing; although Ms Fleming is a star!

  5. Stephen Diviani responded on 21 December 2016 at 11:09am Reply

    And the orchestral playing was also tremendous.

  6. Borech responded on 21 December 2016 at 6:21pm Reply

    Saw the performance last night. It's a pleasure to come to the ROH and to see a thoughtful new production. It's by no means perfect but it is generally gripping, throughout.. I saw the previous production several times and moving on from a much-loved one, is always difficult.
    Generally, well sung, acted and observed. The sets and costumes were excellent. Orchestra superb.
    Makes up for the really dreadful William Tell, Lucia and the laboured L'Etoille, of the last year or two.
    It's rumoured to be Renee Fleming's farewell to London, so catch it,if you can.

  7. Alan Marshall responded on 22 December 2016 at 11:59pm Reply

    Would not want to see this production again. What is the justification for updating the story from the time in which it is set to the date of composition? Act 2 is completely compromised by placing the action in a setting in which it would never take place and by the time we get to the end of Act 3 the producer is so boxed in by his own conception that he has to remove one of the most magical and famous endings in all opera and replace in with something which does not fit with the music. Surely by then he should realise that he has completely destroyed the very thing that he is supposed to be recreating.

  8. John Willman responded on 24 December 2016 at 1:07pm Reply

    After the dreadful productions of the last year, this was a great improvement. Beautiful singing and playing, the best I've ever heard - albeit with some odd director's decisions. So glad to have seen Renée Fleming live at last

  9. John Goulden responded on 26 December 2016 at 9:57am Reply

    We found the updating to 1911 convincing; after all Strauss himself plays about with the dates by introducing a waltz prematurely into the period of the action. The singing and orchestral playing were excellent. So the glass is 80% full. We liked the feisty portrayal of Sophie and her more self-confident than usual father. Rene Fleming’s role was conventional but convincing and poignant. What detracted for us was the almost cabaret acting of Mariandel; the humour of her part is surely that this sophisticated young man is impersonating a poor girl trying to defend her virtue and sobriety against the aggressive Ochs. In the libretto, it is the situation of the trap at the inn rather than Mariandel’s flaunting behaviour that puts Ochs on the defensive. The other problem for us was the excessive loading of the stage with unnecessary side-plots – far too many intrusive vendors in the levee scene, too many extras pretending to be whores and pimps in the inn, the otiose army of waltzing couples in the presentation scene and (especially) to crude display of military hardware. The isolation of Sophie and Octavian would have been more vividly conveyed if they had been alone in Fanimal’s huge reception room. And the ‘eve of war’ mood was evoked perfectly well by the chorus of officers, without insulting the audience by showing artillery and officers incongruously pretending to be crawling to the trenches. Rosenkavalier of course gains from a busy and ornamental setting. But such a level of extravagance and so much diversionary side-play simply distracts from the music. It also sits badly with Covent Garden’s regular pleas that it is short of cash and needs more donations on top of its subsidy.

  10. Stephen Ratcliffe responded on 12 January 2017 at 9:31am Reply

    Lovely performance last night. Glorious trio, superb orchestra. Wasn't wholly convinced by production, especially in third act. Renee Fleming was exquisite. I have never seen her give anything other than a superb performance.

  11. I saw last Sunday's matinee and listened to the relay. The relay hid the problems in the production: Act 1, OK; Act 2, a bit too clever; Act 3, too clever by half.

    Fleming, Coote and Bevan were all wonderful - but the discovery for me was Matthew Rose. He avoided caricature and provided a useful foil to the romance.

    Al in all, a production worth hearing (I'm less convinced about watching it).

  12. James Gordon responded on 18 January 2017 at 12:34am Reply

    The Marschallin dreams. Of course she does, this is Vienna c1911. Since her absent husband uses firearms in both work and leisure activities, it's no surprise that her dreams are nightmares involving guns and cannons.

    Unexpectedly, updating Der Rosenkavalier enriches it enormously. No longer is its Nostalgie just for the end of a necessarily time-limited love affair; it's for the imminent but as yet dimly perceived end of civilisation as these people know it. Ochs barges into Act 1 in military uniform - we can see all too well what will shortly happen to the Kaiserlich-und-Koeniglich army when it is staffed by officers like him. But Oktavian is a soldier too, at least on paper, and he, like Hans Castorp when he eventually quits his Magic Mountain, will follow the Ochses of this world with his men into Armageddon.

    The detail is worked out with the same coherence as the concept. Caruso presents the Marschallin with his latest 78 against the backdrop of a fashion parade of utterly OTT hats. The art gallery inthe Marschallin's palace, the militaristic Greek frieze in Faninal's, the tawdry Venuses in the Act 3 brothel, all are exactly right. Whoever designed Faninal's company logo should be working in advertising. Of course there are a few non-sequiturs as always when stage directions are changed but the libretto is not.

    Oktavian, more credibly in 1911 than in 1780something, has seen Tristan, or, more likely, has heard someone's garbled account of it. Hence his paper into philosophical waffle about Night and Day as soon as he stops groping his mistress. The Marschallin is more up to date. She has also seen Die Meistersinger and knows from the start that she doesn't want to play Queen Marke. This was beautifully conveyed by Rachel Willis-Sorensen. The heartache was there from the start but the maturity to deal with it had to be acquired. She looked and sounded right.

    Anna Stephany, well aided by the costume department, was outstanding as both boy and girl. Loose undress and shapeless military dress uniform were effective disguises, making her almost androgynous, whereas Mariandel flaunted femininity whatever she was wearing. I think even Matthew Rose's Ochs was shocked by her attire when she arrived for their assignation! The voice too captured most of the nuances of this huge part.

    Rose has impressed vocally on many occasions. Here he shows us he is a great comic actor as well. Younger than Ochs is often played and perhaps more believable for it. Sophie Bevan sounds perfect but doesn't look like a 15-year old. (But who does?). Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke stood out among the smaller parts but none was badly done. Orchestra and conductor, dare I say it, didn't seem on top firm tonight.

    The ending shocked, but it fitted with what went before it. Strauss and Hofmannsthal's ending beautifully deflates the transcendent emotions of the duet and invites applause, but it wouldn't work here. The Marschallin has just told us we've been watching nothing more than a Viennese farce. Strauss didn't acknowledge the cannons till two world wars later: in Metamorphosen, his one totally sincere and heartfelt work, he made atonement for all that had gone before. But the Marschallin is all too aware of the cannons lurking in the dream world upstage. In this reading, their final intrusion is both dramatic truth and historical fact.

    One question remains: what will this feisty, modern Sophie become in the giddy, bankrupt chaos of the postwar years?

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