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Subject: Re: Ranking Strauss' Operas (was Re: Die Frau ohne Schatten)
From: Giuseppe Sottotetti <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Giuseppe Sottotetti <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 30 Jun 2003 19:35:41 +0200
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 "James Calvert"  wrote:


> "Rosenkavalier" is delightful, of course, and in the Marschallin it plumbs
> some profound depths of human feeling.  I love it.  But I rank it
> after "Frau" and "Elektra" because it is, over all, a less profound work,

I believe that Rosenkavalier's libretto is one of the best ones Hoffmansthal
has written.
The attention to all historical details is so great that you could believe
the libretto is by Goldoni: look at Ochs, whose sexual activism could fit in
"Les liaisons dangereuses" or in a Da Ponte opera. And he is the noble who
has lost most of his fortune (a character we find so often in Goldoni) and
must look for the help of a nouveau riche - der Edle Herr von Faninal. In
his letters Mozart writes that Italians are cunning, faithless and speak bad
German: isn't it Valzacchi and Annina's portrait?
But of course, Hoffmansthal would be less great if he just had written a
XVIII century pastiche: he views the age of Maria Theresia under the
perspective of the XX century man, who has lost all illusions, who knows -as
Spengler wrote - that the '700th century is the apogee of our civilisation,
that after Mozart decadence begins.
And so we have the beautiful morning of act I ending with the Marschallin's
tear, the disruption in act II of Faninal's ernster, grosser, Ehren-
heiliger Tag. And even in act III Sophie doubts if she really has to accept
Oktavian's love. And the Marschallin who in act I asked Oktavian not to be
just like the marschall and Ochs and in act III repeats to have "eine
montierten (what a delightful germanized French!) Kopf gegen die manner"
allows us to see a not too distant future where Sophie in bed with an 17
year old while Oktavian is hunting in Raitzenland.

If I had to go to a desert island this is the Strauss opera I'd bring with
me.

Giuseppe Sottotetti
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