Die Zeit, die ist ein sonderbar Ding.
January 26, 2011 4:52 PM   Subscribe

100 years ago tonight was the first performance of composer Richard Strauss and librettist Hugo von Hoffmansthal's opera of romance, elegance and gender confusion, Der Rosenkavalier. Highlights [on YouTube] include the Feldmarschallin's meditation on the passage of time, the famous Presentation of the Rose duet, Baron Ochs's waltz, and the final trio (performed at Strauss's funeral, as remembered here by the late Sir Georg Solti.)

Der Rosenkavalier is a love letter to a largely-imaginary Vienna of the 1740s. Its score revolves around the waltz, even though the dance did not become popular until after that period. The opera was such a hit that a silent film was made, with Strauss conducting the recorded soundtrack.

Throughout the century, the opera has continued to inspire designers: from the original, iconic drawings of Alfred Roller to this 1950s production by Tony Duquette to Erté to Gottfried Helnwein, and many many more.

Piano/vocal score online here.
posted by Pallas Athena (5 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Thank you for this post! Today in the Remarque Institute at New York University Larry Wolff, the Director of my graduate program, held a symposium featuring opera historian Michael Steinberg of Brown, musicologist Bryan Gilliam of Duke, stage director Robin Guarino (who staged the last Met revival) and the guest of honor, soprano Evelyn Lear (who sang all three soprano roles during her long career). Larry mentioned afterward that it was his "favorite" academic conference he had ever put on, and it really was a blast, even for someone like me who has little knowledge of but great appreciation for opera.

Ms. Lear was magnificent. She was warm, friendly, disarming (frequently interacting with whoever she happened to glance at) and utterly hilarious--I edit our departmental newsletter and took notes for an article write-up and could barely keep up with her barrage of sassy quotes. Some of the highlights included her repeated swearing (of the tame "God damn" variety: she is 85, after all), her discussion and definition of "chutzpah" and her noting her "plenitude of balls." She also discussed hating tyrannical conductors, loving Jimmy Levine, dressing in men's clothing to get a role in 1959 Berlin, the various worldwide venues she's performed at and chipping her tooth on Italian bread the night of her farewell performance, resulting in Novocaine injections and a slight bump in her farewell-singing get-along.

A clip was played of her singing from Der Rosenkavalier (her version does not appear to be on YouTube) and she sat with her head down for most of the song (she retired in 1986 at age 60 in the role of Marschallin). Towards the end she looked up from her reverie and said, more quietly than the outspoken woman we'd been accustomed to: "So often at night I hear the clock and I try to stop it--I try to stop the time." A lovely woman with a beautiful voice.
posted by nonmerci at 5:50 PM on January 26, 2011 [4 favorites]

Jeez. I spend that long crafting my comment without mentioning that the entire point of the symposium was to celebrate the centennial of the first performance of Der Rosenkavalier! Blasted sleep deprivation.
posted by nonmerci at 5:52 PM on January 26, 2011

Thank you for posting - I forgot the anniversary was today! Der Rosenkavalier is one of my all-time favorites.
posted by Anima Mundi at 7:16 PM on January 26, 2011

Wish I'd been there, nonmerci! Ms Lear has always been fabulous, and I'm glad to hear she still has a plenitude of balls.
posted by Pallas Athena at 12:48 AM on January 27, 2011

Der Rosenkavalier has not ever been one of my favorites, but this is a wonderful post which makes me want to return to it.
posted by Wolfdog at 11:51 AM on January 27, 2011

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