Anticipating the return of Der Rosenkavalier to the Met led by Sir Simon Rattle, Trove Thursday explores the alpha and omega of Richard Strauss: his very first opera Guntram with Robert Dean Smith, Marjorie Owens and Tom Fox and the final scene of Capriccio, his last, with Lisa Della Casa, the centenary of whose birth we mark in 2019.

Like other American tenors Stephen Gould and Robert Gambill, Dean Smith’s major Wagner and Strauss career has taken place almost entirely in Europe. True he saved the day for the Met making his debut on its 2008 HD of Tristan und Isolde but otherwise he’s only sung some Puccini (?) there: Pinkerton and Cavaradossi.

Although more occasionally heard in the US and Canada, Owens too has performed a great deal in Europe where she sings her first Elektra in Stuttgart in July following Turandot at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino.

I admit to having a hard time with Capriccio but its final scene is one of the Strauss’s greatest glories and who better to perform it than Della Casa? Her Vier Letzte Lieder recording under Karl Böhm remains one of my favorites, as does her near-definitive Arabella.

Check out Harry Rose’s review in The Washington Post of Hamlet, Washington Concert Opera’s most recent offering.

Strauss: Guntram

Washington Concert Opera
1 March 2015

Freihild – Marjorie Owens
Guntram – Robert Dean Smith
The Old Duke – Tom Fox
Duke Robert – Zachary Nelson
Freihold – Wei Wu

Conductor – Antony Walker

Strauss: Capriccio – Final Scene
Carnegie Hall
17 December 1960

Lisa Della Casa

New York Philharmonic
Conductor — Gregory Villar

Both Guntram and the finale of Capriccio can be downloaded by clicking on the icon of a square with an arrow pointing downward on the audio player above and the resulting mp3 files will appear in your download directory.

In addition, nearly 300 other podcast tracks, including other Strauss works, are always available from iTunes for free, or via any RSS reader.

The archive listing all “Trove Thursday” offerings in alphabetical order by composer was just updated to include all material as of mid-November 2019.