Alongside the 1962 Schwarzkopf performance, my favourite Rosenkavalier
Of Strauss' operas, all of which I either love or admire very much, Der Rosenkavalier is my favourite. I just love how the story and comedy sparkle and the soaring melodies of Strauss' score. Although I am a big fan of the 1985 and 1994 performances, this 1979 production ranks alongside the 1962 Schwarzkopf, Edelmann, Rothenberger and Jurinac performance as my favourite Der Rosenkavalier. For one, the production looks very elegant visually, the Marshallin's costumes are particularly wonderful, and while not as clean in technical values as the 1985 and 1994 productions like Schenk's Die Fledermaus there is a certain charm to how it is presented. The orchestral playing is full of character and lushness in the Waltz-like music and the final trio(which is everything it ought to be, sublime) and Carlos Kleiber's conducting is fresh and efficient in interpretation. The singing is wonderful. Manfred Jungwirth is not one of my favourite Baron Ochs', I think Hawlata(though the role is too low for him I feel), Edelmann and especially Moll succeed in bringing humanity to a role that can be potentially annoying, however he does have a sonorous voice and his acting doesn't resort too much to hamminess. The three ladies are far more successful though. Gwyneth Jones is really superb in a warm, deeply-felt and nuanced performance, that mixes playfulness, melancholy and thoughtfulness brilliantly, that couldn't be more different to Leonore and Brunnhilde, while Brigitte Fassbaender is my personal favourite Octavian since Jurinac, I just love her powerful voice and her aristocratic and amorous way of acting especially in the presentation of the rose scene. Even better is the Sophie of Lucia Popp, the silvery clarity of her vocal production, her musicality and beautiful stage presence is another performance with her Pamina to remember this (ultimely) late great soprano by. Overall, simply wonderful. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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