R Strauss

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Strauss
LABELS: Opus Arte
ALBUM TITLE: Der Rosenkavalier
WORKS: Der Rosenkavalier
PERFORMER: Tara Erraught, Kate Royal, Lars Woldt, Teodora Gheorghiu, Michael Kraus, Miranda Keys, Christopher Gillett, Helene Schneiderman, Andrej Dunaev, Gwynne Howell, Robert Wörles, Scott Conner; London Philharmonic Orchestra/Robin Ticciati; dir. Richard Jones (Glyndebourne, 2014)
CATALOGUE NO: DVD: OA 1170D; Blu-ray: OA BD 7168D

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It’s only in Act II of Der Rosenkavalier that we learn the age of the boy we first meet as dawn breaks in the Marschallin’s bedroom in a coital flurry of trilling flutes, rearing French horns and tangled strings. Strauss’s 1911 comedy of sex, love and arranged marriages among the caste-conscious Viennese aristocracy is as sour as it is sweet. In Richard Jones’s 2014 Glyndebourne production, that sourness is emphasised by the youth of the cast from Tara Erraught’s wide-eyed, fluffy-cheeked, puppyish portrayal of the 17-year-old Octavian to Teodora Gheorghiu’s diminutive Sophie, Kate Royal’s brittle, beautiful Marschallin, and even Lars Woldt’s fantastically oafish, prematurely bald Baron Ochs.

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In a twist on the conventional sentimental ending, Jones sets the Marschallin up with another young lover-in-waiting, her pageboy Mohammed (Daniel Francis-Swaby). Still Royal’s parting phrase ‘Ja, ja’ cuts like a knife: no lover can heal the loneliness she details in her monologue at the end of Act I, curled up on the long, lemon-yellow couch that stretches across the set, as a Freud-like figure sits behind her, taking notes. Costume (Nicki Gillibrand) and decor (Paul Steinberg) filter 18th-century design through a 20th-century lens, with accents borrowed from Futurism and Bauhaus. There is a large cast of grotesque extras added to the myriad of minor roles. Yet the focus remains on Octavian, Sophie, Ochs and the Marshallin. In François Roussillon’s video production you can appreciate how candid, nuanced and complex these impersonations are. There are minor quibbles with Gheorghiu’s diction and Robin Ticciati’s impetuous tempos. Jones’s staging may be too sharp for some people’s tastes. But the orchestral performance is handsome and lithe. There is more to this production than a handful of ungallant reviews allowed. Anna Picard