Magazine article History Today

The Premiere of der Rosenkavalier: January 26th 1911

Magazine article History Today

The Premiere of der Rosenkavalier: January 26th 1911

Article excerpt

Richard Strauss described his new creation as 'a musical comedy'. When it exploded on the world to a packed house at the Konigliches Opernhaus in Dresden it was a sensation. Some austere critics thought the delectable waltzes were out of place, but audiences adored it and special trains to Dresden had to be laid on for 50 more performances there that year. By the end of 1911 Der Rosenkavalier ('The Knight of the Rose') had been staged in Milan, Vienna, Rome and Berlin. Thomas Beecham conducted the British premiere at Covent Garden in 1913. Rosenkavalier has remained Strauss's best-loved opera and great singers specially associated with it include Lotte Lehmann, Elisabeth Soderstrom, Felicity Lott and Renee Fleming.

Hugo von Hofmannsthal's libretto was based partly on two plays by Moliere. From the beginning he planned a major role for a young man to be played and sung by a woman. The 'man', Octavian, is the lover of the opera's principal female character, the aristocratic Marschallin, and the opera's opening scene finds them in bed together. …

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