Cher Public

“Nicht heut, nicht morgen!”

But enough about Renée Fleming‘s farewell. Let’s enjoy her while we can, with the clear understanding she will probably outlive us all. For tonight though, it’s the season premiere of Der Rosenkavalier at the Met, broadcast starting at 6:55 and the chat (no doubt) only seconds afterward. (Photo by Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera)

  • southerndoc1

    Susan Neves!

    • Rowna Sutin

      I was shocked!

    • How does Susan Neves come into this?

      • Porgy Amor

        She sang Marianne. In the Met’s last new Richard Strauss production (which premiered a year ago today), she was the Overseer/Confidant.

        • Thanks, Porgy. After her outstanding substitution performance in a Saturday matinee Nabucco many years ago, I had thought she would have had much more of a MET career.

  • southerndoc1

    I guess I’m talking to myself, but after a somewhat tentative first act, I’m enjoying this performance tremendously.

  • CwbyLA

    Trio can’t come soon enough. It is getting late and I need to get up early. Come on Strauss!

    • mb

      Getting up early on Good Friday? It’s Friday 1:26pm here in Australia now – much easier time slot. I enjoyed the performance.

      • CwbyLA

        We Muslims work on Good Friday :-)

  • swordsnsolvers

    !!!! LOL production team getting slammed here

    • ER

      yes it is pretty badly booed. but the singers were very well received indeed.

      • swordsnsolvers

        Those philistines just must not have appreciated the incredibly creative idea of staging the opera in the year in which it premiered!

        • Pirelli

          These days, it would be much more creative to set operas in the times (and places) they were meant to be set in…

          • June Conte

            I was there tonight. Production was pointless and ugly. Act three now takes place in a brothel. Octavian/ Mariandel was costumed and made up in Act 3 to look like Marlene Dietrich in “Blaue Engel” and kept spreading her legs. There was a “band” at the brothel that was literally Sweet Sue and Her Society Band from “Some Like It Hot,” complete with a saxophone and bass player. I am sure that things will be toned down for the HD, but what a shame that Fleming goes out in this production. I booed too!

            • Porgy Amor

              Does Fleming think it’s a shame, is the question. She loves Robert Carsen and asked for him.

              I doubt I’ll find this that shocking or challenging. It sounds just like his 2004 Salzburg one (on DVD with Pieczonka), which also had a mixed response when it was new.

            • June Conte

              Yes, good question re: Fleming and Carson. He certainly did her no favors. And I wasn’t shocked or challenged by what I saw tonight. Just bored and bewildered at the money that was spent on this.

            • La Cieca

              Do you have the idea that opera can be done for free?

            • Armerjacquino

              Not sure I understand the objection to act 3 being in a brothel. It’s only removing the euphemism from the ‘private dining room’.

              Quite a coup to get a band that was ‘literally’ a load of dead film actors, though.

            • southerndoc1

              Joan Shawlee is looking pretty bad these days.

            • JR

              There’s no limit to the literal-mindedness of some of the readers.

          • Armerjacquino

            In a nicely circular fashion, this observation about creativity is decades old.

            • Porgy Amor

              Furthermore, I highly doubt that anyone associated with the Met Rosenkavalier was expecting the audience to be bowled over by the creativity of setting it in the early 20th century.

  • Dan Patterson

    I thought this was one of the best conducted Rosenkavaliers I’ve ever heard. I was quite astonished at how much I enjoyed ALL of Act 3; I confess I usually just want them to get to the Trio. I’m looking forward to the second performance on Monday. The production team came in for some loud booing at the end, but I’ll have to wait till the HD telecast to see what that was about. I loved the old production, but it was certainly time for a change. I’m glad Simon Weigle is at the Met now. I’ve enjoyed several of his recordings, especially his FRAU. Bravo, Maestro! I thought the singing was consistently fine.

    • SEBASTIAN Weigle. A really nice guy, too -- i got to spend time with him at Bayreuth during the five seasons he conducted “Meistersinger” there (I saw it every year).

      • Dan Patterson

        Yeah, I caught that too late, after I posted it. It’s late and, God, I’m OLD. I think his recording of FRAU is the best conducted one in the catalog. I really enjoyed his RIENZI and ARIADNE and FEEN, too. I’m glad to hear he’s a nice person. I haven’t heard his RING but I’d like to. The conducting of the Trio tonight was perfect, building to a heartbreaking climax, slow but never dragging

    • Bill

      Thrice now I have seen Rosenkavalier productions where the time frame was updated from Maria Theresa’s vintage to more or less the time that Richard Strauss composed the opera and this new production of Rosenkavalier was the worst of the three the other two being quite a few years ago in Frankfurt and more recently a number of times in Budapest. My one regret is that I already have tickets for
      another Rosenkavalier performance in this run and that we
      in New York are probably stuck with Carsen’s production for another 30 or 40 years. The third act was a complete mishmash -- rather difficult to comprehend what was going on. Costumes were extreme and the Marschallin’s entrance even went for naught as Fleming saundered in
      (even without a hat) in Mae West fashion.

      Musically no problem with the conducting with even tempi
      and a sonorous orchestra. One noticed immediately that
      Fleming’s voice was a bit scratchy as much of the parlando does not rise above the middle range -- Fleming never seems quite natural or spontaneous on the stage as though all her movements are studied. Also one could hardly understand her German -- (but this is not new -- she is not Gruemmer, Janowitz, Isokoski where every word was clear let alone Schwarzkopf or della Casa ).
      Fleming was not in freshest voice throughout but the last time I saw her was her last set of Marschallins at the Met, some years before when the voice had more beauty , but she was never a favorite Marschallin so I did not have the highest hopes. Garanca (at first in a nightgown) is an excellent actor. I have seen Garanca a number of times in Vienna as Octavian (with Isokoski and with Serafin) and at the time felt she was probabably the best Octavian singing at the time. Her voice lovely and even and her movements appropriate. The voice now,
      after the birth of her second daughter is larger, there was
      (particularly in the first act) a bit of vocal spread in the lower middle and middle range so not as lovely as previously
      in Vienna. That she overdid the Mariandel scenes, vamping around, was probably the fault of Carsen for in
      Vienna (in the traditional Schenk production of 1968) Garanca was more subdued (and more telling).
      Groissboeck is not the blackest of bass sounds and the lowest notes do not come easily but are present. He is more youthful than the Boehme, Edelmann, Moll Baron Ochs’ interpretations -- one wonders why Sophie is so repelled at first sight. But Groissboeck is fine vocally.
      One surprise to me was that vocally Erin Morley was much improved over her last Sophies at the Met -- she is dressed somewhat in Lady Mary Crauley fashion, moved well and her tone in the prime moments was winning and attractive.
      Polenzani probably was trying to play the Italian tenor as
      an Italian tenor -- pushing his voice (and occasionally flat)
      so not really memorable. Most of the other roles were not well or subtly sung. The Faninal Markus Bruck had a very loud unattractive voice, the Marianne also loud (but not screechy), the Valzacchi Alan Oke quite unpleasant to the ear -- and the Annina not much better. As in many Carsen
      productions, beds were prominent and Sophie and Octavian ended the third act in bed -- the Marschallin just saundered by -- no hand kiss, no lost handkerchief. No emotion, no stateliness -- The sets in general were garish
      (two big canons in the 2nd act reception room) -- many extras waltzing around -- There was generous but not
      prolonged applause for the singers with Garanca garnering the most Bravos (though many Fleming fans in the audience). The production team was booed by roughly
      one third to one half of the house -- others applauding.
      The performance was some 4 1/2 hours with a very long first intermission (many diners as it was a gala evening).
      I do not mind new or updated productions but this Rosenkavalier was not one for the ages -- and yes I also felt compelled to boo the production team -- which I may have done only one or two times previously in my operagoing life. I have seen many bewitching and elegant performances of Rosenkavalier, some of the greatest of casts where one left the opera house where a warm internal glow lingered for hours or even days but last
      night simply fell like a thud and the radiant trio (perhaps as the voices did not properly blend) limp and wilted. That said Garanca who modulated her voice at that point and Morley blended splendidly in the final duet.


      • Porgy Amor

        He is more youthful than the Boehme, Edelmann, Moll Baron Ochs’ interpretations -- one wonders why Sophie is so repelled at first sight.

        She’s repelled by his behavior.

        • PCally

          Thanks so much for pointing out what frankly should have been obvious! Looks have nothing (or at the very least, very little) to do with it. He’s a pig and his behavior repeatedly crosses the line and THAT’S why Sophie is repulsed. Kind of surprised this had to be pointed out, especially since that’s more or less explicitly stated as the reason for Sophie’s reaction (not his looks or his age) and Groissboeck’s interpretation was far more aggressive than any person I’ve ever seen in this role live, the personification of male privilege and hyper aggressive toxic masculinity.

          • I agree. I love the idea of Sophie initially finding Ochs attractive physically and then being repelled by his behaviour. Far more compelling than having him be repulsive in every way.

  • eastcoastbear

    I liked the production. Especially Act III taking the scene from a private dinning room to a full scale bordello -- it brought more action and a bit of comedy to the production (as opposed to bad taste). And the dance scene and lighting in Act II, I found very effective. For me it was an improvement on the old production and I was among those cheering, to drown out the boo birds. Renee struggled to be heard over the music in Act I, but otherwise it was a fine night at the Met. Garanca was a tour de force, especially in Act III, both singing and especially her acting. Bravo to the Met Orchestra as noted below…

  • Nelly della Vittoria

    May I proffer something from the Musical Times of August 1, 1923 on the general theme of gradual retirement?