Or perhaps I should say belated greetings to, to give him his full name, Octavian Maria Ehrenreich Bonaventura Fernand Hyacinth Rofrano. January 26th was the 100th anniversary of the first appearance of the young Count at the front door of the Von Fanninal residence bearing a silver rose for young Sophie and autumnal heartbreak for Princess Marie Thérèse von Werdenberg.
Throughout the week in Salzburg and Vienna we had heard Mozart, Berg, Haydn, Shostakovitch, Handel, Schubert and J.C. Bach but not a note of Strauss. As compensation we saluted the composer and Der Rosenkavalier, perhaps his most famous work, by stopping last Sunday at a small but beautifully curated exhibition at the Austrian National Library.
It was mounted among the towering book shelves in the baroque splendour of the State Hall (click here for a virtual view of this splendid room) - the great central room built in the 1720s for Emperor Charles VI by Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach to plans drawn up by his father Joseph Emanuel. As the opera takes place the 1740s, the early years of the reign of Charles' daughter Marie Thérèse, the venue was highly appropriate.
The room serves as the repository for over 200,000 books dating from 1501 to 1850 and includes display cases that change regularly of many of the great early treasure of incunabula, manuscripts and illuminations in the Library collection. The most fascinating, for me at least, was a Book of Hours written in silver ink on velum that had been stained black. It is one of only four known to exist and was more awesome in reality than these examples would indicated.
Arranged around the statue of founder Charles VI the Rosenkavalier exhibition showcased Strauss's original score, Von Hofmannsthal's manuscript with Strauss' musical notations, photos, letters and documents from its premiere and the composer's life in Vienna. And included a wonderful life-size display of Alfred Roller's costume designs for that first performance, rotating mirrors reflecting both the designs and the relationships in the opera.
For the video in HD *just left click here to go to YouTube.
For such a old fellow I must admit that QuinQuin is looking and sounding pretty youthful and is still able to break hearts. As the Marschallin so rightly muses: Die Zeit, die ist ein sonderbar Ding - Time, it is a strange thing!
*And as I've just realized if you want to read the commentary!!!!
04 febbraio - San Giovanniccio