Newspaper article International New York Times

In Uncertain Times, a Suitor's Rose Is Still Silver ; at the Salzburg Festival, a "Rosenkavalier" on the Cusp of Modernism

Newspaper article International New York Times

In Uncertain Times, a Suitor's Rose Is Still Silver ; at the Salzburg Festival, a "Rosenkavalier" on the Cusp of Modernism

Article excerpt

Harry Kupfer's "Der Rosenkavalier" at the Salzburg Festival updates the story to the cusp of Modernism.

Strauss's "Der Rosenkavalier" has arrived at the Salzburg Festival over the past 30 years with the regularity of a comet: 1984, 1995, 2004 and now 2014. Like clockwork, each decade has let us revisit this sprawling yet intimate opera, a paean to both nostalgia and transformation.

This year's occasion is Strauss's 150th birthday, and he can rest easy: There is nothing in Harry Kupfer's new staging to send him rolling in his grave. Nor to roil an audience, even the tradition- minded one here in Austria, where this opera, which takes place in 18th-century Vienna, is revered as a birthright. Mr. Kupfer, a veteran director, treats the work with kid gloves.

Sometimes sleepy and sometimes arrestingly elegant, his is a calm, tasteful "Rosenkavalier." It walks the same line between quiet charm on one hand, and conceptual and psychological mildness on the other, as this year's production of Schubert's "Fierrabras," directed by another operatic stalwart, Peter Stein. If Mr. Kupfer and Mr. Stein were innovative enfants terribles in the 1970s and '80s, they can now be counted on not to rock the boat.

Updated to the Vienna of the early 20th century, on the cusp of Modernism, this "Rosenkavalier" is dominated by looming photographs of the city's grand old buildings, symbols of a past -- and the social structure it represents -- that the opera depicts in the process of galvanic change. Spare arrangements of furniture -- some neo-Classical, some Art Deco -- move on slowly rotating treadmills, the ground literally shifting beneath everyone's feet.

Within these unstintingly classy surroundings, the characterizations are standard issue, with the Marschallin perhaps slightly more circumspect than usual and Sophie (sung with a hard sliver of a soprano by Mojca Erdmann) a bit more headstrong. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.