Der Rosenkavalier, Royal Opera, a second view, December 2009.

This was my second view, on the last night of the run, and although Soile Isokoski was clearly better in Act I than she was on the first night, I found the whole performance underwhelming. Once again it was Lucy Crowe as Sophie who was the star of the evening, along with Peter Rose as a refreshingly young looking Baron Ochs, behaving like an ill-mannered frat-boy. I’m afraid I just wasn’t wowed by Ms. Isokoski as the Marschallin, nor by Sophie Koch as Octavian. In Act III it was Lucy Crowe who really pulled at the heart strings, showing how devastated her character Sophie felt by the evening’s charade. Yet it should be Octavian and the Marschallin’s moment. Octavian nearly tripped when stepping backwards, and his/her complete lack of reaction to this emphasised just how much the movements were unnatural and choreographed. However the trio at the end was gloriously sung, and well worth waiting for.

As for the conducting, there was plenty of variety from Kirill Petrenko in the orchestra pit, and I liked the colouring of Act I, with the disharmonious noise in the levée scene contrasted with other parts of that act. But I felt that some of the high points in the opera went missing, particularly the entrance of the Marschallin in Act III. Admittedly, Soile Isokoski lacked the required stage presence, but this is where the orchestra should really raise our emotions, and it failed to do so.

This production of Rosenkavalier is a good one, and I look forward to seeing it again at Covent Garden. As Octavian they might consider hiring Daniela Sindram who was outstanding in February 2009 in the production I saw at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin. I would also love to see Kate Lindsey do the role if she adds Strauss to her repertoire, having just seen her as a very fine Nicklausse in the Met’s Hoffmann.

One Response to “Der Rosenkavalier, Royal Opera, a second view, December 2009.”

  1. cavalier says:

    At the risk of being somewhat less than generous, one must say that Soile Isokoski is in many respects less than ideal casting as the Marschallin. It is for this reason that I was all the more impressed with her in the role last year in Vienna. Vocally and in many respects dramatically she met the considerable and complex challenges more successfully than other more prospectively better choices. This was all the more impressive in a performance that was in many ways below routine – with the exception of the Garanca’s magnificent Octavian – she would obviously have made a better choice than Koch to partner Fleming at Baden Baden but was apparently otherwise engaged. Based on the reviews it would appear that Isokoski was in many respects and possibly for multiple reasons bellow her best form at CG.

    Speaking of Garanca brings to mind her replacement in the Met Hoffmann. In two performances in the theater, Lindsey was quite a bit better vocally than what I heard in parts of two radio broadcasts. I’m reluctant to attribute this to technical issues since the other singers sounded pretty much the same live in via live streaming. Still, I do think that her voice is at this stage somewhat small for the role. I really think she needs to hold off on the Octavian for 3 or 4 years to preserve and cultivate her vocal resources because she really should be something better than ideal casting for that and similar roles (lack of an ideally sized voice hardly makes her less than a superb Muse, IMO) . Her Cherubino a couple of season ago was certainly unsurpassed and hardly equalled in my experience live (going back to the mid 90s) and I am hard pressed to identify many better historical exponents.

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