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Subject: Re: Rosenkavalier 4/24
From: Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 26 Apr 2017 23:42:18 -0400
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It's a classic diagnosis of directoritis. Symptoms include heavy-handed symbolism, turning 
an opera into a didactic "teaching moment" instead of letting it be the sublime 
entertainment that it should be, the basic, total, and unconditional distrust of a writer's 
original sense of tone and taste, and the basic, total, and unconditional distrust of an 
audience's intelligence and imagination. Usually the director's erection lasts way more than 
4 hours, due to his own ego stroking as he comes up with one "brilliant" self-serving idea 
after another. 

Strauss and Hofmannsthal wrote one of the most moving scenes in opera, IMO, when the 
Marschallin becomes part of Act III, and reality sets in for the 3 characters in the opera's 
love triangle.  Who needs the imposed foreshadowing of an impending world war when the 
so much more intimate and awkward feelings of, in particular, the Marschallin and 
Octavian, are so perfectly set to music - culminating in that emotional trio and that quiet 
but heartbreaking "ja ja" exit line? THIS is the bittersweet, heartfelt drama that the writers 
wanted us to take in. Not to trivialize WWI, but what Strauss and his librettist wrote here, 
in their own carefully plotted context, is much more moving than the (unrelated) 
realization that war would soon change the world.  A soprano with great nuance and acting 
ability can give me chills with that "ja ja" - we don't need to know it's about to be WWI for 
that to happen. For all its scale and size, Rosenkavalier is really a drama about intimate 
emotion, not about the world at large. 

And then, to top things off with that quiet, beautiful duet for the 2 young lovers, 
punctuated by those wonderful "slightly off key" passages in the winds and celeste 
between the vocal phrases - again, Strauss is already telling us everything we need to 
know about the fairy tale ending which in of itself may not be totally perfect - and yet we 
are indeed permitted to enjoy this couples' new-found love for those last moments. Again, 
our experiences and our imaginations may lead us to think that all may not be perfect bliss 
for the new couple, or we may get swept up in their ecstasy and not care about what may 
happen next. But at least Strauss is leaving US to make up our own minds, without the 
heavy-handed view of a director who thinks the opera is somehow about world war, not 
the power and peril of love. 

Carsen - that guy that wanted to hammer home the point that Onegin's Russia was naught 
more than chairs and falling leaves, has yet again missed the point, it would seem. 


On Wed, 26 Apr 2017 15:14:38 -0400, Max D. Winter <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>Robert Carsen's production was a mixed bag.  I did not have a problem with the updating 
>per se, and the sets and costumes were wonderful.  But the Impending War theme was 
>over-done and at odds with the both the spirit of Hoffmanstahl's text and, more 
damaging, 
>with Strauss' music.  Yes, there is a sense of passing time and of a world about to vanish 
in 
>"Rosenkavalier."  But it is a gentle nostalgia, and making it into impending tragedy 
distorts 
>the essential character of the opera.  The most damaging elements were those huge 
cannon 
>in Act II - fortunately not on stage the whole time - and, worst of all, the menacing 
>advancing army at the very end.  What the hell did that have to do with the frothy, 
sparkly 
>music that Strauss provided for the end of the opera?  It was a classic example of a 
director 
>letting his Konzept get in the way of the material.  

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