Der Rosenkavalier, Coliseum, London
Monday 26 May 2008
In the final scene of Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier, just as the Marschallin is about to leave her lover, Octavian, to the younger woman, she says to Sophie: "No need to talk so much. You're pretty, that's enough." But is it? For those who hope that Octavian will come to his senses and leave the air-headed ingnue before it's too late, David McVicar's production plants some hopeful clues. Indeed, Octavian only just stops short of following the Marschallin out of that final scene, almost sparing us that saccharin duet between the young lovers. I reckon McVicar gives them about a month together.
The great thing about this staging, first seen at Scottish Opera, is its detail. McVicar's set design (with Michael Vale) hints at a fairy-tale artificiality, but within this world human nature is up to its old tricks. McVicar is especially good on period manners, and the scene where Sophie's duenna (a delicious Janice Cairns) "adjudicates" the first meeting between her and Octavian is played for all it's worth.
Another unique elaboration is the relationship between Baron Ochs (John Tomlinson) and his bastard son, Leopold (Harry Ward), who shadows his every move and jumps to his every whim. And that includes serving as dance partner for the Baron's favourite waltz tune. On cold winter nights one imagines them going through their old routines. No woman has ever stayed around long enough to take Leopold's place on the dance floor.
Dance is, of course, of the essence in Strauss's refulgent score and Edward Gardner and the ENO Orchestra give it all the sweep and swoon you could wish for. Better yet is the way in which Gardner has tapped into its capriciousness. If you've ever wondered what happened to the Strauss of Elektra in Der Rosenkavalier, then listen to Gardner.
Cast-wise, there is international quality at work. Sarah Connolly is an outstanding Octavian virile, sulky, petulant, her voice so ripe for the role that nothing is forced. Janice Watson (the Marschallin) knows a thing or two about radiance in Strauss but needs to work on varying the conversational tone of the role.
Sarah Tynan (Sophie) bounces in like a fluffy meringue and adds whipped cream for her stratospheric flights of fancy. She is precisely the kind of dessert Baron Ochs likes that's after he's pushed it around his plate a bit. John Tomlinson, ruddy of face and voice, is now so inside Ochs that you wonder how he is at home. He's at home here. A quality evening.
To 7 June (0871 911 0200)
BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital moveTV
Final Top Gear reviewTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
- 2 Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
- 3 Isis flag: What do the words mean and what are its origins?
- 4 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 5 Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
Poldark finale review: Not even the 'putrid throat' and tragedy to stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest
Chronixx interview: Reggae sensation on taking the opening spot at Glastonbury and calling Barack Obama a 'waste man'
Game of Thrones season 6: Director Jack Bender hints showrunners 'communicate closely' with George RR Martin
Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
Amy: Mark Ronson praises 'respectful' Amy Winehouse film as it scores the highest ever UK opening for a British documentary
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts