The Metropolitan Opera HD Live: Season 5, Episode 10

R. Strauss: Capriccio (11 Feb. 2012)

TV Episode  -   -  Music
6.5
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 15 users  
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Which is greater among the arts, poetry or music? The opera explores that question in an allegorical tale: the Countess (Fleming), is torn between two suitors, the poet Olivier (Russell Braun) and the composer Flamand (Joseph Kaiser).

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Title: R. Strauss: Capriccio (11 Feb 2012)

R. Strauss: Capriccio (11 Feb 2012) on IMDb 6.5/10

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
...
Countess
Russell Braun ...
Olivier, a poet
Joseph Kaiser ...
Flamand, a composer
Peter Rose ...
La Roche, a theater director
Morten Frank Larsen ...
The Count
Sarah Connolly ...
Clairon, an actress
Barry Banks ...
Italian Singers
Olga Makarina ...
Italian Singers
Michael Devlin ...
The Major-Domo
Bernard Fitch ...
Monsieur Taupe, a prompter
Ronald Naldi ...
Servants
Paul Corona ...
Servants
Steven Goldstein ...
Servants
Christopher Schaldenbrand ...
Servants
Grant Youngblood ...
Servants
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Which is greater among the arts, poetry or music? The opera explores that question in an allegorical tale: the Countess (Fleming), is torn between two suitors, the poet Olivier (Russell Braun) and the composer Flamand (Joseph Kaiser).

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Music

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11 February 2012 (Japan)  »

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16:9 HD
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User Reviews

 
Angel Gets Her Harp
16 May 2012 | by (Birmingham, England) – See all my reviews

Strauss gets his retaliation in first in this opera. His characters voice all the criticisms that you may ever have heard about operas: you can't hear the words, the recitatives are boring, the plots are silly, and so on. His characters are a group of aristos and artists in 18th century Paris discussing the relative merits of music and poetry. Confusingly, director Peter McClintock sets the piece in what looks like Germany around the beginning of the 20th century. It looks very beautiful but you wonder why the characters keep mentioning Gluck, Rameau, Couperin, Goldoni and Corneille when illustrating their arguments.

Perhaps Strauss, writing this opera in Nazi Germany in 1942 did not want to do anything too controversial. This is a very lightweight piece although anyone who knows a little bit about opera will find the argument about poetry and music quite amusing. It seems to be a bit of a one-sided argument to have in the context an opera since the poet Olivier only gets to recite his sonnet whereas the composer Flamand gets to set it to music.

This short opera is bulked out with an interlude involving two Italian singers, which is reminiscent of the boudoir scene in Der Rosenkavalier. There is also a comic ballet sequence, illustrating the pitfalls of ballet-dancing in a drawing room. It takes seven servants to serve the chocolate in this drawing room. I thought they were supernumeraries but, suddenly, when the aristos leave, they burst hilariously into song commenting on the quaint ways of their masters. There is a similar scene in Donezetti's Don Pasquale.

All this is really just a preamble for the last 20 minutes of the opera when Renée Fleming, as the Countess, reflects on poetry and music as personified by her two lovers. She often performs this in concert and she does it consummately well. I particularly loved the very quiet singing at the very end. This is an opera which, like Rosenkavalier, ends very quietly. As far as I could see, the angelic Renée really accompanies herself on the harp. Is there no end to her talent?


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