Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Knight of the Rose Sells Out in 1911


Kathleen Battle, Frederica von Stade, Renée Fleming
"Marie Thérèse! Hab' mir's gelobt"
Der Rosenkavalier (Op. 59) (The Knight of the Rose) is a comic opera in three acts by Richard Strauss to an original German libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. It is loosely adapted from the novel Les amours du chevalier de Faublas by Louvet de Couvrai and Molière’s comedy Monsieur de Pourceaugnac. It was first performed at the Königliches Opernhaus in Dresden on January 26, 1911 under the direction of Max Reinhardt. Until the premiere, the working title was Ochs von Lerchenau. (The choice of the name Ochs is not accidental, for in German Ochs is translated as ox, which depicts the character of the Baron throughout the opera.)

The opera has four main characters: the aristocratic Marschallin, her very young lover Octavian Rofrano, a part sung by a woman, her coarse, philandering country cousin Baron Ochs auf Lerchenau, and his young prospective fiancée Sophie von Faninal, the lovely daughter of a rich Viennese bourgeois. Baron Ochs, having arranged with Sophie's father Faninal to combine his noble rank with Faninal's money by marrying Sophie, asks the Marschallin to suggest an appropriate young man to be his Knight of the Rose, who will present a silver rose to Sophie on his behalf as a traditional symbol of courtship. She recommends Octavian. When Octavian delivers the rose, he and Sophie fall in love on sight, and must figure out how to prevent Baron Ochs from marrying Sophie. They accomplish this in a comedy of errors that is smoothed over with the help of the Marschallin. [Source]

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