COMPOSERS: R Strauss
LABELS: C Major
WORKS: Der Rosenkavalier
PERFORMER: Krassimira Stoyanova, Günther Groissböck, Sophie Koch, Adrian Eröd, Mojca Erdmann, Silvana Dussmann, Rudolf Schasching, Wiebke Lehmkuhl, Stefan Pop, Tobias Kehrer, Martin Piskorski, Franz Supper, Lucas Singer, Roman Sadnik; Vienna Philharmonic/Franz Welser-Möst; dir. Harry Kupfer (Salzburg, 2014)
CATALOGUE NO: DVD: 719 308; Blu-ray: 719 404
Hooray for director Harry Kupfer! He turns his back on Maria Theresa – the Empress of Austria, that is, not the Marschallin, whose love affair with young Octavian, the Rosenkavalier, runs its course in Strauss’s masterpiece. Kupfer’s Salzburg Festival production transfers the opera from the 18th century to 1911 when it was composed, and all the traditional cuts in the opera have been restored.
Better still, Kupfer knows that Der Rosenkavalier is a supreme exercise in nostalgia: so there at the back of the stage are huge projections of Vienna in all its 19th-century magnificence. Octavian presents his rose in a conservatory that could have seated the entire Austro-Hungarian officer class, and Ochs is punished in a ramshackle inn dwarfed by the Prater’s giant Ferris wheel – the Wiener Riesenrad. The yawning cavern that is the stage opening of the Salzburg Festspielhaus, though, sometimes makes it hard for video director Brian Large to help us find our bearings between the back projections and the often intimate action of Strauss and Hofmannsthal’s opera.
This is also Freud’s Vienna. Krassimira Stoyanova’s Marschallin is a scrupulous analyst of her own and Octavian’s emotions, while Mojca Erdmann’s superb Sophie hints at the domestic tyrant she is likely to become as a wife. Best of all is Günther Groissböck’s Ochs: not an aged roué, nor an ox in an emotional china shop, but a younger man ruled by the insatiable itch of desire. As for Sophie Koch as Octavian, her unique blend of vocal ice and fire reminds you why Strauss and Hofmannsthal changed the title from Ochs von Lerchenau.