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Subject: Re: Strauss operas
From: David Geary <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:David Geary <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 3 Dec 2008 08:21:53 +0100
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It seems that I am the only one here who has Arabella towards the top of  
my favorite Strauss operas.

I was lucky enough to see it with Della Casa, Rothenberger, and  
Fischer-Dieskau in Munich. Perfection. I could do without Arabella's  
endless leavetaking from Lamoral and Dominik in the second act. Who cares  
if she takes leave of someone you've never seen before? I also think the  
so-called "munich" version in which the last bars opf the second act are  
omitted and go straight on into the Vorspiel to the third act a big  
improvement. The end of the second act builds up to a climax which never  
quite arrives, and the orchestral introduction to the 3rd act supplies it.  
But mainly the love it.(Also saw Della Casa at the Met, but she ws much  
better in Munich.) I run hot and cold on Rosenkavalier. Basically I love  
most of it, and parts of it contain some of the most gorgeous music that  
has ever been written. But sometimes the Marshallin does get on my nerves.  
The great nobility of her sacrifice, giving up Octavian for the sake of  
Sophie. Oh, come off it! Noble scarifices, that are Vioetta, Norma, even  
Gioconda. But Octavian is a kid at least 15 years younger than she is, she  
is a married woman, admits to having had affairs before, and has long  
since seen the writing on the wall. Thzat's hown I feel intellectually,  
but a great Marshallin can carry you along and make you believe it.
Salomé is stunning, and above all, Elektra..... I've been lucky, I saw  
Varnay, Borkh and Nilsson in the role, in that order. All three were  
magnificent in the role, but Varnay was supreme. I admit to being somewhat  
of a Varnay fanatic. But I don't think she was the greatest because of  
that, on the contrary, it was her Elektra which turned me from an admirer  
to a worshipper. I knew a greek bass who sang Orestes often, but he said  
only Varnay got it right: after her cry of "Orest!" she knelt on the  
ground and kissed his feet. He said tears poured out of his eyes every  
time. Afterwards she went on to Klytemnestra, of course, and even sang it  
more times than the title role. I saw her together with Nilsson in it,  
Rysanek was often their Chrysotemnis, that is a trio for you! however  
Bjoener was the Chrystomnis the night I saw it, and she wasn't exactly  
chopped liver either. Varnay's Klytemnestra on the DVD is impressive, but  
she herself wasn't at all happy with the interpretation Friedrich wanted.  
She felt Klytemnestra should have at least some vestages of beauty left.  
But since Friedrich wanted it so totally over the top, she figured she  
might as well go for it. There is a bit of her last performance of the  
role taped for Bavarian TV, I uploaded it to youtube (search for "Varnay  
Klytemnestra youtube" that will turn it up. That gives a much better idea  
of her performance of the role.

David

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