Renee Fleming certainly needs no introduction as one of opera’s greatest sopranos and this performance of her as Marschallin, once again, does not disappoint. This staging of Der Rosenkavalier was complete in its grandeur and rococo splendor of 18th century Vienna. The Shakespearean-style comic masterpiece was adapted from the novel Les amours du chevalier de Faublas by Louvet de Couvrai and Moleire’s comedy, Monsieur de Pourceaugnac and is 3 1/2 hours of glorious costumes and sets amid a story full of romance and intrigue. First performed under the direction of Max Reinhardt at the Dresden Operanhaus in 1911 during a time of rococo revival, it is easy to understand why its premiere was sold out. The story surrounds four main characters. Beside Fleming as the aristocratic female, this performance also features Susan Graham as Octavian, her young lover (played by a woman); Kristinn Sigmundsson as her cousin and womanizing oaf, Baron Oochs; and Christine Shafer as Sophie, daughter of a wealthy Viennese merchant and Oochs’s young prospective fiancée and eventual lover of Octavian. Edo De Waart conducts this internationally acclaimed cast, which also includes Eric Cutler as the Italian singer and Thomas Allen as Herr Von Faninal, Sophie’s father.
An opera in three acts, Great Performances at the Met are never to be missed. This happens to be one of my favorite operas, perhaps because I am an ardent lover of the rococo period and a great fan of Strauss’s waltzes. Renee Fleming and the entirety of the cast set amidst 18th century rooms, ripe with appropriate to the period decor and costumes of 1740s Vienna, is a feast for all eyes and ears and lovers of art and culture. Der Rosenkavalier made me so happy to wake to a rainy Sunday afternoon, which provided a perfect opportunity to stay indoors. Do not miss this on your local PBS station this week as Great Performances at the Met. Also, this week is RSC’s production of a contemporary Hamlet with Patrick Stewart and David Tennant (Dr. Who).