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Subject: reposting from yesterday with proper subject: Met Rosenkavalier rises to the occasion(4-21-17)
From: Alan Savada <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Alan Savada <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 24 Apr 2017 08:45:21 -0400

text/plain (108 lines)

So sorry to post this yesterday without a proper subject line!!

On Friday night I took in the new production of Der Rosenkavalier at the Met and I have to say vocally and musically it is a do not miss experience. I am a Strauss fan and this is one of my favorite operas, but I have to say even with some of the negativity that has been said about this production it is well worth the experience and venture.

conductor -Sebastian Weigle
production -Robert Carsen

set designer -Paul Steinberg

costume designer -Brigitte Reiffenstuel

lighting designers -Robert Carsen &  Peter Van Praet
choreographer- Philippe Giraudeau
Cast in order of appearance:

Octavian- Elīna Garanča

Marschallin- Renée Fleming

Mohammed-Billy Conahan

Baron Ochs auf lerchenau -Günther Groissböck

Marschallin’s major-domo Scott Scully

Lackeys- Marco Jordão, Ross Benoliel, Daniel Clark Smith, Edward Hanlon

Noble widow-Sidney Fortner

Three noble orphans- Maria D’Amato, Christina Thomson Anderson, Rosalie Sullivan

Milliner -Anne Nonnemacher

Animal vendor- Dustin Lucas

Notary -James Courtney v

Valzacchi- Alan Oke

Annina-Helene Schneiderman
Hairdresser -Tom Watson

Italian singer- Matthew Polenzani

Leopold-Patrick Stoffer

Herr von Faninal-Markus Brück

Sophie-Erin Morley

Marianne Leitmetzerin-Susan Neves

Faninal’s major-domo-Mark Schowalter

Doctor -Frank Colardo

Innkeeper -Tony Stevenson
Waiters- Brian Frutiger, Bradley Garvin, Brian Kontes, Christopher Job

Police commissioner -Scott Conner

Somebody previously mentioned that they missed the Met's gold curtain and I do have to ask the same question as to why they use a red replacement curtain for this production, especially if it costs money for them to use a different curtain.
From my box seat I was able to watch the orchestra the entire time and what a gorgeous sound they made; this huge orchestra sure can fill this house and fill your head with great swelling music. 
The First Act has a wall with large double doors in it that separates the front of the stage from where the action will eventually take place further back; this set format repeated effort throughout the entire three acts. While this production was moved to just pre-World War I, you still have a lush set with gorgeous furniture and accoutrements.
Octavian comes out the door smoking a cigarette in a nightgown that kind of only comes to his knees. This bothered me a little as I thought the character should have at least some hair on his legs if he is a young man. Just for this stupid reason it really made me hard to believe that Ms. Garanca was indeed a man. Ms. Fleming was in a tight floor-length negligee that made her look spectacular.
When the wall lifted up and we saw the beautiful bedroom I was a bit confused to see multiple pictures of the emperor Franz Joseph on the wall as this clearly would not have been the case in a lady's bedroom of that day, but it did clearly set the time.
Of course we came not to comment on the minor failures of the production, but for the singing and boy did this couple deliver.
As productions go this was loaded with servants, police and lackeys all over the place especially in the public scenes and sometimes it seemed a bit of an overdose.
Would Ochs jump into bed with his cousin?? I guess if he was a fool, as he is. I loved Octavian as Mariandl stuffing socks into her tits. Indeed this Opera is a comedy and Mr. Carsen did take ample opportunity to make us laugh and enjoy it.
Mr. Polenzani gave us a delicious Italian singer looking much like Caruso in a white suit bringing in an album and signing it for the Marschallin. There were even for dogs on stage and I could have sworn that Renee Fleming said she would never share the stage with another dog.

Act two has been described as taking place in a munitions factory belonging to Faninal. It's actually quite a beautiful black and white tiled reception area so to speak. Two huge Howitzer type cannons occupy the space at the beginning but really are unnecessary. A frieze of orange and black shows Greek soldiers. There are lots of people with lots of guns and some black leather furniture around the sides of the room.
What amazed me here was the huge soprano voice of Susan Neves in what was really luxury casting as Sophie's duenna; it gave new meaning to a role that is usually never noticed. Ms. Morley look spectacular in a gleaming white wedding gown but I was disappointed when the dancing chorus came on later with all the women wearing similar gowns and she no longer stood out.
The Presentation of the Rose has to be one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written and here it was done with superb care to the music and the singing, with both soprano and mezzo soaring and floating their delicious high notes. I felt that the chorus of dancers and choreography for this entire scene we're completely unnecessary and actually took away from the music.
When Octavian and Sophie were seated for a tete-a-tete, I love the way that each time Octavian got up the majordomo kept showing him back to his seat.
There were so many extras and choristers in what really is not a huge party scene and I was confused. Then piles of guns in cases with large F's on them standing for Faninal also arrived.
In the scene between Octavian and Baron Ochs it seemed that Ochs actually walked into Octavian's sword by mistake and then a hospital gurney with a pile of medics all sporting long black rubber gloves arrived to take him out.
As Sophie complained to her father that she would never marry this man she ultimately tore off the wedding gown in frustration. 

Act 3 had the most interesting take with the bordello scene having several doors decorated with art of naked women at the front on the wall that was lowered. One of the prostitutes was on a telephone and was topless with pasties. A madam was trying to get people in and out of the rooms as many military men arrived for their assignations. This later turned out to be the tenor playing the Innkeeper in drag and was quite a character coup for Mr. Stevenson.
The wall rose to reveal a huge room with furniture and more paintings of nudes around.
Octavian entered and was being dressed as a woman by a number of the prostitutes. The look he ultimately assumed was somewhat of a Greta Garbo look with a silky Asian robe, top hat and long cigarette holder. His character was totally all over Baron Ochs as he entered, almost reversing what is usually the take in act 3. At one point a Murphy bed comes down from the wall revealing a luxurious bed which Octavian tried to pull Ochs  onto multiple times. This got a huge laugh from the audience.
For the scene where Ochs is to be confused, there were three half-naked women in mirrored cages of sorts behind the huge wall paintings. Leopold had also stayed in the room from the time that he entered with his father and was sneaking around watching what was going on from various hiding places.
Ms. Fleming's entrance was grand and she looked truly spectacular in a long black gown with a fur-trimmed coat over it with a huge fur train.
At one point we see that the Marchallin's servant Mohammed who is usually played by a little boy was actually a drunken teenager partying with everyone else in the bordello.
The front wall came down at one point but then went back up for the final Trio which I was glad of. Again another highlight of the opera the last 20 minutes truly can transport anyone to heavenly bliss. 
At the end it's usually traditional for Mohammed to come back and pick up a handkerchief that the Marchallin has dropped,  but here he just wanders off aimlessly and drunk. Instead the walls of the large bordello room part and move to the sides of the stage and as the final notes are being played we witness an Austrian Army led by the field-marshal himself falling down obviously dead. While I enjoyed 95% of this production up until now, this was completely unnecessary.
What I am glad for was an evening of spectacular singing that is worth every penny to get to the Met and see this wonderful cast.
Alan J Savada,CTC
Washington, DC

ALAN SAVADA of Washington, DC

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