Der Rosenkavalier, Glyndebourne, GFO, May 2018

When Strauss and von Hofmannsthal first imagined this opera its working title was Ochs von Lerchenau, and in this performance Brindley Sherratt gave a superb account of that role. Not the buffoon of some portrayals, he exhibited a style of his own, with stockings that didn’t reach his breeches in Act I — a country cousin with an overgrown sense of entitlement, but wonderful vocal depth. I loved his performance.

Marschallin and Octavian, all images GFO/ Robert Workman

So too with Kate Lindsey as Octavian, vocally compelling while exhibiting the passions and movements of a young man, and Elizabeth Sutphen as Sophie produced lovely high notes and an attractively nervous demeanour. The love-at-first-sight between the two came over very clearly in Act II, and their final duet was beautiful. This comes after the famous trio where Rachel Willis-Sørensen’s Marschallin complemented them superbly. Her voice was clear and secure, but she was let down by graceless acting, and a lack of vocal subtlety in some of the more reflective moments such as the lovely soliloquy on time (Die Zeit, die ist ein sonderbar’ Ding).

Presentation of the Rose

In other roles, Gabriele Rossmanith made a terrific Marianne Leitmetzerin (chaperone to the motherless Sophie), Michael Kraus was excellent as her father von Faninal, and I loved the sturdy diction of Martin Snell as Police Inspector in Act III.

When this Richard Jones production was new four years ago there was huge press criticism, partly focused on the ridiculous costume and make-up for Octavian. This has been completely fixed, as has the over the top representation of Faninal, but too many of the previous absurdities cling on. The Marschallin’s young servant Mohammed still sniffs her clothing and keeps peeping in during the trio, Ochs’s principal servant Leopold remains a tall Geert Wilders look-alike who in Act II keeps lifting Sophie on to the table around which various punters make bids, and Annina and Valzacchi are still cartoon characters.

Ochs, Faninal and Sophie on the table

Costumes from varying periods give a disorienting effect to what is Strauss’s homage to Mozart, a mix of depth and playfulness that in Richard Jones’s production contains more playfulness than depth, sometimes veering into irrelevancy. In Act I after the self-satisfied Ochs has shown the Marschallin a picture of his fiancée, she muses on her own young life at that age and behind the couch sits a psychoanalyst (‘Freud’ in the cast list), but despite such unnecessary additions all was well with the London Philharmonic once again under the baton of Robin Ticciati. Musically a delight therefore, but a staging disappointment despite the best efforts of revival director Sarah Fahie.

Final moments

Performances continue on various dates until June 26, with Louise Alder sharing the role of Sophie, and Michaela Kaune taking over as the Marschallin from June 8 — for details click here.

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