Der Rosenkavalier at Glyndebourne

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Der Rosenkavalier at Glyndebourne

 

That wonderful Arts channel, BBC4, aired a documentary recently featuring the 80th anniversary of Glyndebourne and I watched it with fond memories. In 1989 a friend and I were offered tickets from a relative of a colleague, and despite the very considerable cost to our pockets, we treated ourselves to a black-tied, Harrod's Champagne-hampered splash-out, taking in a Prom on the previous evening en route to East Sussex. It was a performance of Figaro, Rattle and OAE, with Peter Hall directing. The whole experience remains a vivid and delightful memory.

 

But to my point. A third of the documentary or so showed preparations for Der Rosenkavalier, not a work I know well at all, but by the end I was somewhat smitten, in no small part due to some considerable focus on the final trio. I think it was Felicity Lott who cried on camera, just describing the Marschallin's situation, saying she had difficulty holding herself together in every performance of that trio. After listening or watching a few versions on Spotify or You Tube, and consulting reviews, I sent for Building a Library's June 2014 top recommendation, with the Karajan, Schwarzkopf, Ludwig, et al set. It is ripping to the NAS as I write, ready for a streaming later, and I quiver with anticipation! A remarkable discovery for me.

 

I would be interested in others' views on this opera, and their favourite versions.

Der Rosenkavalier.

Vic, this is a magnificent Opera, on a par with the greatest works of Mozart or Wagner. However, what makes it so special is this sublime combination, in a supposed "Comedy", of interesting psychological sensitivity with an unparalleled level of the most beautiful musical writing. This is the Opera at its most refined (with a quite large and sophisticated score).

The very demanding score requires some of the top singers for all the major parts and attracts great singers even for the smaller ones (The Italian Tenor has invited Pavarotti, Domingo, Carreras and Araiza in Solti's, Bernstein's, de Waart's recordings and Cleiber's in his Munich's DVD production respectively).

Overall, Karajan's early 60s recording is considered as one of the top recordings of all timnes, particularly in Opera. However, it is not that perfect as for the cast (Schwarzkopf is utterly expressive but not vocally ideal, Ludwig the other way round and Stich-Randal not the best Sophie. Otto Edelmann is a very stable, consistent Baron).

Carlos Kleiber was -apparently- the conductor for this Opera. There are both recordings and video productions available and all of them deserve a goodwill listener's attention, which, gradually can provide the greatest rewards in abundance. His "live" recording of 1973, on Orfeo, has been hailed accordingly and, eventually, it has been reissued as a SACD with a view to providing the best possible results. The less impressive point here is Watson's Marschallin. However, we find the most eloquent and convincing (in every way) Fassbaender's Octavian and Popp's most delightful Sophie. Ridderbusch's Baron is a revelation (too rare to be captured on record) to treasure.

Another great Octavian, only once captured in a commercial recording, was Von Stade's, in the de Waart's recording (on Philips, now on Brilliant). Jurinac was superb in one of the Bohm's recordings, on DG.

Barbara Bonney's Sophie is a one of the most successful recent ones, captured both on video (in the video Samuil mentioned above and in Kleiber's from the Vienna production) and on CD. However, Edith Mathis and Lucia Popp constitute some of the best for that role, in terms of vocal expressiveness and beauty of singing as well as refinement of the highest order in the most intense moments of the work.

Solti, on Decca, Bernstein on Sony, de Waart on Philips (now on Brilliant) and one of the Bohm's recordings have enough insights (vocally, musically and as for the recording quality) to offer for a better understanding and eventual, more complete, appreciation of an Opera that is not easily produced or recorded and deserves to be explored to the highest degree.

Parla

Vic,

Vic,

 

You went with the right choice. Pace parla. Schwarzkopf is both interpretively and vocally brilliant. Most other Marschallins seem bland in comparison, and the voice is surpassingly beautiful. What's more she captures the playfulness and youth of the Marschallin, who, Hofmannsthal and Strauss stipulated, should be no more than 34, though, on the other hand, there is never any doubt that this Marschallin is an aristocrat through and through. I listened to the BBC Radio 3 programme on Der Rosenkavalier and, on a point by point comparison, went along with all the reviewer had to say. There are some other wonderful performances on other sets, but this 1957 Karajan performance still leads the field. It would be one of my desert island choices.

 

It might be worth also acquiring the earlier of the Kleiber DVDs, with Gwyneth Jones, very effective if less naturally aristocratic as the Marschallin, a delightfully girlish Popp as Sophie and Fassbaender a superbly boyish Octavian. 

 

The Paul Czinner film (with Schwarzkopf, Jurinac and Rothenberger) has also recenty been digitally restored and looks splendid in the recent BluRay and DVD transfers (but beware there are still some sub standard early transfers around, made before the digital restoration).

 

Of course, as the only one

Of course, as the only one recording to have, the EMI Karajan set is the obvious choice. Even if one may consider Schwarzkopf as the "ideal" Marschallin (some do not; at least vocally, I prefer some other voices), still for the other roles, one has to experience a Fassbaender as Octavian or a Popp or Mathis as a Sophie etc.

In other words, like so many great Operas (and works of great Music), one cannot stay with one recording only. He may miss some other interesting aspects of the work...including the magic drive of Kleiber's conducting any orchestra.

Parla

as the magic fades

 

Well, a thoroughly enjoyable, satisfying and enriching experience this opera and this version proved to be – as advised. Although I had dipped into other versions on Spotify and You Tube, I didn't once get the impression that any aspect detracted from the whole. (And moved beyond words as I expected to be by the final trio!) Just wonderful all round.

 

It is always rewarding to read of others' favourites and their recommendations here, but my usual practice is to take note of reviews and such advice and then buy a “top recommendation”, as I did here with this Radio 3 “Building a Library” choice, endorsed by others above.

 

I can understand the collector imperative, of having several comparisons to hand, but my interest doesn't lie in seeking out perfection – though I can see its attraction. I work on the principle that as I already have more recorded music than I have years left to hear it all, if I am to buy one or two versions, I will put my trust in others' expertise and experience, and to tell truth, I find almost all the music in my collection rewarding to some degree or other. On top of that, of course, for me there is still so much more music out there still to explore.

 

Over the years I have sought ever better audio equipment rather than spending on discs in their thousands. The combination of stunning reproduction, the deeply rewarding comfort of known and prized performances, and confidence (and satisfaction) with versions which have won praise by trusted others – works well for me, if not for record company profits.

The Met 2009

Hi Vic,

I saw this production in the cinema as an HD Broadcast and I can say that it was well worth the price of admission. I believe it's available via the Met website if interested. Here's is a review covered by the NY Times ;

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/15/arts/music/15rosen.html?_r=0

 

goofyfoot

As the magic fades...the fond memories stay...

Well, Vic, I trust you have completed your first journey to a new (for you) discovery. Apparently rewarding enough (as it could be expected). Your post makes perfect sense from your point of view and interest.

If I am allowed, I wanted to underline some points of further potential interest (and possible attraction) to you:

- This Opera is a very rewarding in its complexity and the multiple layers of texture, musically as well as theatrically. Thus, repeated listening and revisiting the plot, the muiscal texture and the final form of the work is required.

- The characters of the work are quite interesting for the potential singers in building, creating and mastering them on stage. Each role is a revelation of musical and thearical performance. Particularly, the role of Der Rosenkavalier is such a difficult task for a female singer: to master her eruptive boyish character, as "he" grows up, through her most feminine voice! The Marschallin, on the other hand, has to use the most refined voice -almost throughout- to express the most anguished moments of facing the tough reality of growing old. And so on with the rest of the characters. So, the study of how at least a couple of great singers have recreated the respective roles is pretty much helpful.

Therefore and only counting on "other's expertise and experience", I may suggest that you can follow the Radio 3 Building a Library  First Choice and watch, in any possible way, the DVD of Carlos Kleiber video from his Muinch performance. Relying on Penguin Guide and their Rosette winner, you may enjoy even the 1994 brilliant recreation of the work with Cleiber and another stellar cast with the musically mature Felicity Lott, the very fine and greatly convincing Anne Sofie von Otter as the most refined lover boy Octavian and the always lovable Sophie of Barbara Bonney.

Finally, as an alternative CD option, Gramophone (and most of the most reliable French and German magazines) have hailed as their choice (in various forms: Editor's choice etc.) the Kleiber live Munich performance of 1973, on Orfeo (it exists also as SACD).

All the above, I simply suggest as an option for the future (distant or not), on the premises that this work may keep growing on you.

Sincerely,

Parla

Vic

I don't have to tell you to ignore this endless verbal diarrhea.

Do what you want and happy listing .

Happy listening, Adrian (and

Happy listening, Adrian (and Vic)...As for the "listing"...let it go.

Parla

 

Adrian wrote:

Adrian wrote:

I don't have to tell you to ignore this endless verbal diarrhea.

Do what you want and happy listing .

The industrial scale of his outpourings makes me think of sewage, rather than diarrhea. Diarrhea is just too modest.

Very nice avatar, Jane, and

Very nice avatar, Jane, and appropriate for this thread and the scope of this forum. Irrelevant to the language you use occasionally though...

Parla

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