Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier is included in this year's programme at the Opera. I've been told that it really is a masterpiece but try as I might I just can't get it. I think it was Andrew Porter who said "Its like mounds of cloying sweet whipped cream with four or five perfect strawberries hidden within," or something to that effect. I guess I'm not willing to dig through three hours of whipped cream for those perfect ripe red berries. Though for reasons best known to my subconscious all day I've been humming the most perfect berry of the lot: the Final Trio.
A bit of the plot for those of you who aren't familiar: The Marschallin, a married woman in her 30s, is having a passionate affair with the 19 year old Count Octavian (sang by a woman.) She loves him deeply but knows that the situation, though romantic, is impossible. On a lark she sends him as the Cavalier of the Rose (Rosenkavalier) to Sophie, a young lady who is betrothed to her cousin, Baron Ochs. The inevitable happens, Octavian and Sophie fall in love at first sight, promises of undying love made earlier are forgotten. After much ado the three are in the same room - the young lover, his new love and his old love. The Marschallin gently remonstrates with Octavian, affectionately teasing him, but at the same time wisely letting go - treasuring in her heart what was between them and wanting for him, because she cares for him so deeply, only happiness. Sounds sort of like a Harlequin romance but Hofmannsthal's lyrics and Strauss music transcend all that.
And in this performance by Marilyn Horne (who should have sung this on stage but didn't,) Frederica Von Stade and Reri Grist all the heartbreak, tenderness and love come pouring out.
05 gennaio - San Edouardo