I have heard three versions of the final scene with the Marschallin from "Der Rosenkavalier."
The first time was with the supreme Kiri Te Kanawa in the role, which led me to the version of Elizabeth Schwartzkopf in the same part in 1962. The contrasts were interesting to say the least.
While Te Kanawa soared in the part with her face full of emotion, Schwartzkopf was bland and still. She could sing as well, but not as forceful as Te Kanawa.
The parts of the Baron and Sophie were intriguing in these two versions as well.
Schwartzkopf's version had Sena Jurinac as Octavian and Anneliese Rothenberger as Sophie, both of whom were lively and spriteful, very surprising from the pained performances of Anne Howells as Octavian and Barbara Bonney as Sophie in Te Kanawa's version.
It's a shame there was no way for the two supporting players in the '62 version to work with Te Kanawa. Their joy would have made the Marschallin's pain so much more overwhelming.
Still for an over-forty-year-old opera, Der Rosenkavalier with Elizabeth Schwartzkopf stands as an excellent introduction to the opera, but not the best. That is Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.
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