Friday, 10 February 2012

Der Rosenkavalier damn it

A wild and kittenish Octavian, Sarah Connolly

Well the ear proved to have a double infection - outer ear and inner ear, so I have have to tread very carefully for the rest of the week. I tried teaching a little but my eardrum was feeling the sound too much so I gave in and cancelled my teaching! Even the little ones were a tad too loud. Actually I think the percussive effect of the piano was almost the most painful. The miracle that is antibiotics are definitely working however, so fingers crossed for a full recovery by the middle of next week!

So many folk have missed quite vital lessons and I am riddled with guilt, but in the end if I damage my ear permanently there will be no more anyway!

I was thinking about going to the opera when I go down south at the end of next week, and I noticed that the divine mezzo Sarah Connolly was playing the Travesti (male role!) part of Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss. As it happens, and much to my deep disappointment the final performance is the evening that I actually fly. Aaagh!

I had never heard the opera until I was about 35 ! I can give no explanation for my crass stupidity in always fighting shy of it, except in my studying years we listened to a good deal of later Strauss works such as Salome and Elektra and to be honest I found them very hard work, and very hard on the voice. Then one day I opened the Radio Times (now there is a bit of the past!) and saw that Rosenkavalier was on the TV with a masterful cast including Kiri te Kanawa, Barbara Bonney and Ann Murray. I decided in a half hearted sort of way to give it a go.

Picture the scene if you will. I was lounging on the sofa, TV at the far corner of the room. It began, I realised actually (just as I had been taught!) it really was a modern Mozart opera. The first Act ended and I was on the floor closer to the box. By the presentation of the rose scene I was in front of the fire on the floor 2 metres closer, and by the trio in the final act I was peering closely at the TV with tears rolling down my cheeks, unable to drag myself from the screen.

Why, oh why had I wasted all those years? Why had I not given it a try when I was 20?

Perhaps, I reason nowadays, it is because I was by then truly ready for the impact and the intensity of the work, which may have slightly bypassed me when I was greener and younger. Maybe in my 30's I had a deeper empathy for the 32 year old Marschellin who has to give up the young boy, and does it with such grace, for the young and beautiful Sophie.

It is a Marriage of Figaro type work but with a more personal and human take of the emotions of the characters. Strauss says all the things Mozart did but with a broader coloured palette, brighter hues, and more tears.

Sarah Connolly has had rave reviews for her Octavian/Cherubino role, and I am very cross ENO did not consult me as to my diary before they set their schedule. It is a revival as well, so it could be years before it comes around again, by which time Madam Connolly will probably have retired!


Felicity Lott, Anne Sofie von Otter and Barbara Bonney

1 comment:

  1. Sorry to hear your ear is poorly. I have immense sympathy as I have had inumerable ear infections and as I am deaf in one ear an infection in the other renders me entirely deaf, which though peaceful can be rather frustrating.

    I have to confess to not knowing Der Rosenkavalier at all, perhaps it can be something I can explore this week. Off to Sutherland for some R&R. I shall wave from the East coast :)