STRAUSS: Capriccio — Vienna 2008

Music composed by Richard Strauss. Libretto by the composer and Clemens

First Performance: 28 October 1942, Staatsoper,

Principal Roles:
Countess Soprano
Count Baritone
Flamand, a musician Tenor
Olivier, a poet Baritone
La Roche, director of a theatre Bass
Clairon, an actress Contralto
M. Taupe Tenor
Italian Singer Soprano
Italian Tenor Tenor
Major-Domo Bass

Setting: A drawing-room in the Countess’s chateau near
Paris; May 1777


In the Countess Madeleine’s ch‚teau, the composer Flamand and the poet
Olivier listen to a rehearsal of Flamand’s newly written sextet. They are
both in love with the Countess, and argue the relative merits of music and
words. The theatre director La Roche, waking up from a nap, explains that
without impresarios their efforts are but lifeless paper. They leave to
rehearse Olivier’s new play, written for the Countess’s birthday the
following day. The Count enters, teasing the Countess that she is identifying
Flamand with her love of music, while she retaliates that his love of words
mirrors his admiration for the actress Clairon. While the Count enjoys
fleeting encounters, the Countess desires long-lasting love but cannot choose
between Flamand and Olivier. Clairon arrives and she and the Count read the
latest scene, culminating in a love sonnet, before leaving for the rehearsal
in the theatre. Olivier declares to the Countess that the sonnet is intended
for her but, to his horror, Flamand sets it to music and sings it. Olivier is
summoned to make cuts to his play. Flamand declares his love and the Countess
asks him to meet her in the library the following morning when her choice
will be revealed. Refreshments are served while the guests are entertained by
dancers and singers. La Roche describes his planned birthday entertainment,
the allegorical Birth of Pallas Athene followed by the spectacular Fall of
Carthage. He is mocked, but defends his faith in the theatre, challenging
Flamand and Olivier to create masterpieces that speak to humanity’s heart
and soul. The Countess commissions them to collaborate on an opera, and the
Count suggests the theme should be the events of that afternoon. The Count
and Clairon leave for Paris with the theatre company. With moonlight
streaming in through the windows, the Countess learns that Olivier as well as
Flamand will meet her in the library to learn how the opera is to end. Torn
between them, she sings the sonnet that represents their inseparability. She
consults her image in the mirror to decide the opera’s ending. The
major-domo provides the answer: ‘Dinner is served’.

[Synopsis Source: Boosey
& Hawkes

here for the complete libretto

image_description=RenÈe Fleming as the Countess (Photo: Wiener Staatsoper)
first_audio_name=Richard Strauss: Capriccio
product_title=Richard Strauss: Capriccio
product_by=Die Gr‰fin Madeleine (RenÈe Fleming)
Der Graf, ihr Bruder (Bo Skovhus)
Flamand, ein Musiker (Michael Schade)
Oliver, ein Dichter(Adrian Erˆd)
La Roche, der Theaterdirektor (Franz Hawlata)
Die Schauspielerin Clairon (Angelika Kirchschlager)
Monsieur Taupe, Souffleur (Peter Jelosits)
Eine italienische S‰ngerin (Jane Archibald)
Ein italienischer S‰nger (Cosmin Ifrim)
Der Haushofmeister (Clemens Unterreiner)

Das Orchester der Wiener Staatsoper, Philippe Jordan (cond.)

Live performance: 7 June 2008, Wiener Staatsoper, Vienna
product_id=For best results, use VLC or Winamp.