Barrie Kosky stages DER ROSENKAVALIER – Online-Premiere on 21 March
Richard Strauss was already inspired by his librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal after receiving the first scenes and sensed an imminent success. He was right – today Der Rosenkavalier is one of Strauss’s most performed operas. Fifty years after the last new staging, Barrie Kosky and our designated General Music Director Vladimir Jurowski are now developing a new production. In the main roles, you’ll enjoy Marlis Petersen, making her role debut as the Marschallin, Christoph Fischesser (Baron Ochs auf Lerchenau), Samantha Hanky (also making a role debut as Octavian) and Katharina Konradi (Sophie). The new production will be broadcast on 21 March as a free live stream on STAATSOPER.TV, on ARTE.TV, on BR-KLASSIK Concert and on BR-Klassik on the radio.
The Strauss/Hofmannsthal success duo’s opera hit – about the piece and staging
The Marschallin and her younger lover Octavian’s tête-à-tête is abruptly disturbed by the arrival of Baron Ochs auf Lerchenau. The Baron announces his marriage plans to the Marschallin. He will wed the daughter of the rich parvenu, Herr von Faninal, the young Sophie. On a whim the Marschallin proposes Octavian be sent to Sophie as the Baron’s matchmaker. He is to present the marriage proposal with a silver rose. Octavian and Sophie fall in love head over heels, so all marriage plans go dreadfully awry. Octavian’s scheming implicates the obtrusive Baron in a scandal, the young couple come together and the Marschallin gives her blessing.
As Strauss wrote to Hofmannsthal, Der Rosenkavalier seemed to, “set itself to music like oil and melted butter”. After Elektra and Salome, many contemporaries considered the composition a regression into post-Romanticism. “Strauss was actually spurned by his earlier admirers and friends because of his tendency towards the romantic style,” says Vladimir Jurowski in an interview for Max Joseph. “He was, in fact, leading them up the garden path. Listen carefully and you’ll notice the discords in Rosenkavalier at every turn.”
The Bayerisches Staatsorchester and its future General Music Director have dared to experiment for the premiere. The piece will not ring out in Strauss’s original instrumentation, but rather in a reduced version by Eberhard Kloke, which also complies with the restrictions imposed by the pandemic. Kloke has arranged the piece for an orchestral instrumentation as first heard from Strauss in Ariadne von Naxos, and therefore underscores the aspect of Rosenkavalier as a comedy of manners, as he believes the reduced instrumentation contributes to the text’s comprehensibility.
Barrie Kosky, who most recently staged Agrippina (2019) at the Bayerische Staatsoper, sees the three Rosenkavalier acts as individual units, which he presents from the perspective of a different character in each case. He transforms Strauss and Hofmannsthal's Rococo fantasy into a kind of surreal, opulent journey through the concept of time and the perspectives of the Marschallin, Sophie and Octavian, which all merge at the end.