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Thread: Der Rosenkavalier with the National Symphony Orchestra (concert perf.), Washington, DC

          
   
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    Opera Lively Staff Member Top Contributor Member Hoffmann's Avatar
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    Der Rosenkavalier with the National Symphony Orchestra (concert perf.), Washington, DC

    Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss, to a libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal, premiered in Dresden on 24 January, 1911.

    Performance of 8 March, 2014, at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Washington, DC

    Conductor: Christoph Eschenbach
    Director: Stephen Pickover

    Cast:

    The Marschallin: Renee Fleming
    Octavian: Stephanie Houtzeel
    Baron Ochs: Franz Hawlata
    Sophie von Faninal: Marisol Montalvo
    Herr von Faninal: Adrian Eröd
    Marianne Leitmetzerin: Irmgard Vilsmaier
    Valzacchi: Thomas Michael Allen
    Annina: Catherine Martin
    Notary: Solomon Howard
    Italian Singer: [replaced, I didn't catch the name]
    (et al.)
    with Woodley Ensemble and Children's Chorus of Washington

    Performance:

    Tonight's was probably the most powerful performance of anything I've seen in years. First, while it was a concert performance, the cast acted as they sang and conveyed more without sets and costumes than most operas do with. I was a little hesitant about the National Symphony taking on such a difficult opera, except that it starred Renee Fleming singing the Marschallin. Renee Fleming did not disappoint - she was radiant, elegant, stunningly beautiful and ageless and sang the Marschallin effortlessly (and in her gorgeous voice) and with great emotion. In fact, there wasn't an off note, shrill voice or off-putting moment throughout the cast the entire night.

    The first act began with Renee Fleming's Marschallin and Stephanie Houtzeel's Octavian entering the stage in character, flirting with each other. That Stephanie Houtzeel replaced Sarah Connolly was a disappointment - that she sang like a dream made the audience immediately forget that she was a replacement came as a very pleasant surprise. Houtzeel, too, sang with power and accuracy in the demanding role throughout the night. Franz Hawlata was an amazing Baron Ochs - funny, ribald and still touching - I only knew his name beforehand, but had never heard him sing. I knew from my reading what the role of the Marschallin represents, and how difficult it is to cast the role appropriately with the soprano successfully conveying the bittersweet emotions of the role. I'm now convinced Renee Fleming can do anything, because at the end of the act, after her musing on age and loss in glorious voice - she left me teary (yeah, I know. I'm easy).

    Although the second act belonged to Baron Ochs/Franz Hawlata, the act opened with Marisol Montalvo's singing Sophie at the presentation of the rose with breathtaking accuracy - she is young and beautiful and looked the part - and absolutely soared through the high notes in her duet with Octavian. Every bit the offensive boor, Baron Ochs still retained a shred of humanity that made him seem more clueless than evil - he never lost touch with the audience. Franz Hawlata took over with a wonderful 'Ohne Mich' one of the catchiest tunes in the opera, and walzed around the orchestra.

    The third act brought the opera and the night to a close with all the singers still singing strongly, accurately and unforced. The final moment with Octavian, after the Marschallin steps aside to both encourage and forgive his romance, approaching the Marschallin one last time, who turns her back as she leaves the stage, left me teary all over again. For a long opera, Der Rosenkavalier and the evening speeded along, and I lost all track of time. The conclusion had the audience leaping to their feet simultaneously upon the drop of the conductor's baton - only the third time I've seen that happen.

    Note: The program credits their use of the silver rose to courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera.

    More please.

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    Junior Member Recent member manon's Avatar
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    Lucky you, getting to see Ms. Fleming in one of her greatest roles. Wish I was there. Thanks for the excellent review.

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    Opera Lively Staff Member Top Contributor Member Hoffmann's Avatar
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    Renee F. shows up here every so often - we are indeed lucky that she sometimes includes DC in her plans. Last time I saw her (probably 5 or 6 years ago), she brought a concert performance of Strauss' Daphne with Jon Fredric West - that was another thrilling evening!

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