STRAUSS: Der Rosenkavalier ó Hamburg 1992

Music composed by Richard Strauss. Libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal.

First Performance: 26 January 1911, Kˆnigliches
Opernhaus, Dresden.

Principal Characters:
The Feldmarschallin [Marschallin], Marie ThÈrËse, Princess
Octavian, Count Rofrano (‘Quinquin’) her young
Mohammed her page Silent
Baron Ochs auf Lerchenau her cousin Bass
Sophie von Faninal Soprano
Herr von Faninal Sophie’s rich parvenu father Baritone
Marianne her duenna Soprano
Valzacchi an intriguer Tenor
Annina his niece and partner Contralto
A Notary Bass
An Italian Singer Tenor

Setting: Mid-18th-century Vienna, in the reign of the
Empress Maria Theresa


Act I

The Marschallin’s bedroom

Rising reluctantly from the bed where they have spent the night together,
the Marschallin and Octavian are breakfasting when raised voices outside make
the Marscahallin fear that her husband, supposedly far away hunting, has
suddenly returned.

Octavian hides, dresses himself in female garments and presents himself to
the Marschallin as her maid from the country when the intruder, the
Marschallin’s country cousin, Baron Ochs von Lerchenau, bursts in. Octavian’s
attempts to creep out are thwarted by the baron, who attempts to make an
assignation with “Mariandel” at the same time as he explains his errand. He
has come about his forthcoming marriage to Sophie Faninal, who is young and
beautiful and has a rich father, who, however, has only recently been
ennobled; but Ochs is satisfied that he has enough noble blood for two.

He has come to ask the Marschallin to choose a young relative to take a
silver rose to Sophie as a token of betrothal, and for a recommendation to
her notary, who is expected at her levee. His attempts to grab Mariandel
cause the Marschallin to remark that his engagement has not cramped his
style, and he boasts that he has no intention of curtailing his amorous
exploits, adding that he keeps one of his bastard sons as his body servant.
When the Marschallin suggests Octavian as the rose-bearer and shows him a
picture, he is struck by the resemblance to Mariandel and the Marschallin has
to pretend that “she” is Octavian’s bastard sister, to forestall Ochs’
curiosity when he meets Octavian.

At the levee, the Marschallin – among other things – has her hair done,
gives alms to three noble orphans, refuses a gossip sheet offered by
Valzacchi, an Italian intriguer, and listens to an Italian tenor, whose song
is interrupted by the baron’s arguments with the notary over the marriage

Complaining that her hairdresser has made her look old, the Marschallin
sends everyone away. Before leaving, Ochs manages to ask Valzacchi and his
accomplice Annina to arrange for him to meet Mariandel, a commission they
accept eagerly despite the fact that they have no idea who he means. Leopold,
the body servant, brings the silver rose. The Marschallin reflects on the
complacency of Ochs, about to marry a young girl with money, but confident he
is the one conferring the favor. She remembers how she was taken straight
from the convent and thrust into marriage.

Octavian, returning in his own clothes, finds her mood changed, as she
tells him how she feels time passing and herself growing old. When he tries
to cheer her up, she says she knows that one day he will leave her for
someone younger and more beautiful. Sweeping aside his protestations, she
sends him away, but then is sorry because they have parted without a kiss.
She sends servants ro recall him, but he is already out of sight. She calls
for her little black servant Mahomet and gives him the silver rose to take to

Act II

The salon in Faninal’s house

Sophie tries to remain calm amid the excited comments of her duenna and
the frenzied household preparations. Octavian arrives and presents the rose
to Sophie. Both remain transfixed with eyes only for one another. They make
polite conversation until Ochs is presented by Faninal. Sophie is repelled by
his pockmarked complexion and coarse blandishments and Octavian is barely
able to contain his anger. Faninal and Ochs withdraw to sign the contract,
but Octavian and Sophie are prevented from coming to an understanding by the
presence of her duenna.

She, however, is called away to quell the disturbance caused by Ochs’
drunken servants terrorising the maids, and Sophie confides to Octavian that
she will not marry Ochs. They confess their love, but as they kiss, Annina
and Valzacchi creep up, grab them and call for the baron. He is unconcerned,
having given Octavian permission to warm Sophie up, and even when Octavian
tells him that Sophie does not like him, he only remarks that she will soon
learn to; so Octavian draws his sword and insults him, forcing to draw his
own sword. Ochs is lightly wounded in the arm, but makes a great fuss.
Faninal tries to soothe him and threatens Sophie that she will either marry
him (alive or dead) or spend her life in a convent. Octavian is obliged to

Bandaged and supplied with wine, Ochs becomes more cheerful. Annina brings
him a note from Mariandel, offering an assignation for the next night. He
ignores her pointedly outstretched hand.


A private room in an inn

With the assistance of Valzacchi and Annina, Octavian, wearing his
Mariandel costume over his ordinary clothes, prepares the scene for the
discomfiture of Ochs.

Ochs arrives, and his advances to Mariandel, interspersed with moments of
aversion as the face reminds him of his encounter with Octavian, are
interrupted by the appearance of heads from trapdoors and windows,
culminating in the entry of Annina in disguise, representing herself as his
deserted wife and accompanied by children screaming “Papa!” Ochs, who has
lost his wig, loses his head and calls for the police; but when the police
commissioner arrives, he is unable to provide an acceptable explanation for
his dubious situation.

He claims that Mariandel is his fiancee, Sophie Faninal, but her father
(sent for by Octavian) arrives at that moment. Faninal identifies Ochs as his
prospective son-in-law, but disclaims Mariandel. Sophie leads her father
outside and the Marschallin (summoned by a message from Ochs) appears. Sophie
brings a message from her father repudiating the marriage, and Octavian, now
in his own clothes, nervously tries to explain Sophie’s identity to the

The Marschallin dismisses the commissioner with the explanation that it
has all been a farce, then sends Ochs packing, firmly reminding him that he
is a gentleman, when the realisation that Octavian and Mariandel are one and
the same sets him speculating. He leaves, pursued by Annina and screaming
children and the innkeepr and others demanding payment. Left between Sophie,
who fears that their love might be part of the farce, and the Marschallin,
Octavian is undecided, but finally goes to Sophie when the Marschallin
advises him to follow his heart. Reassuring the nervous Sophie, the
Marschallin, true to her vow to give up Octavian gracefully when the time
comes, withdraws and leaves them together.

[Synopsis Source: Opera~Opera]

here for the complete libretto

image_description=Robert Sterl: Ernst Edler von Schuch dirigiert den ÑRosenkavalierì von Richard Strauss, 1912
first_audio_name=Richard Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier
product_title=Richard Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier
product_by=Octavian (Ning Liang), Feldmarschallin (Kiri Te Kanawa), Baron Ochs (Kurt Moll), Sophie (Hellen Kwon), Faninal (Eike Wilm Schulte), Annina (Olive Fredericks), Valzacchi (J¸rgen Sacher), Italian Singer (Heinz Kruse), Staatsoper Hamburg, Christian Thielemann (cond.)
Live performance: 20 September 1992, Hamburg.