Friday, March 25, 2011

10 Interesting Facts About Der Rosenkavalier

Sometimes it's the elevator rides to work that are the most valuable. Like the other day when riding up to the Aria Serious Tower we asked Dr. Nic:

"Hey, you want to give us five interesting facts about Der Rosenkavalier to share with the press?"

"Sure," Nic said.

Being an overachiever, he gave us ten. And they're so good we decided to share them with you.

1.) In a bit of theatrical gender-bending unusual for 1911, the role of Count Octavian (a 17-year old boy) is played by a mezzo soprano. At one point in Act I ‘he’ becomes a ‘she’ again by disguising himself as a maid in order to avoid being caught in the Marschallin’s bedroom: a woman playing a man playing a woman! Victor/Victoria anyone?

2.) The entire three-and-a-half minute Prelude to Der Rosenkavalier is a rather specific musical depiction of the Marschallin and Octavian making love.

3.) Der Rosenkavalier is not an opera about a woman who’s concerned about aging. The Marschallin is only 32, after all. The opera is actually about ‘letting go’ in as graceful a manner as possible.

4.) The presence of the Viennese waltz in the score is anachronistic: there was no such thing in Vienna during the 18th century, the period of the opera’s story.

5.) Every time you hear a waltz in the score of Rosenkavalier, you can be sure that someone on stage is lying to someone else or disguising their identity, a wonderful bit of musical symbolism.

6.) Soprano Lotte Lehman is famous for having sung all three of the principal roles in Der Rosenkavalier: Sophie, Octavian and most famously, the Marschallin. No, she never sang Baron Ochs.

7.) Strauss encouraged his librettist, Hugo von Hoffmannsthal, to make Der Rosenkavalier a true comedy. The Bavarian Strauss wanted the audience to “guffaw”, not just chuckle politely.

8.) Der Rosenkavalier was so popular at its Dresden premiere that “Rosenkavalier” trains were specially arranged to transport whole audiences from Berlin, a journey of 90 miles.

9.) The stage director of the first production of Der Rosenkavalier was Max Reinhardt, one of the great geniuses of 20th century theatre. His first Hollywood film, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, starred Mickey Rooney.

10.) The original 1911 cast made a recording of excerpts from the opera under the supervision of the composer.

Not bad for an elevator ride.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fantastic! Thanks a lot for this wonderful story!