Der Rosenkavalier, Opera by R. Strauss

Richard Strauss premiered Der Rosenkavalier at Dresden’s Königliches Opernhaus in on 26 January 1911, and since then it has been one of the most significant contributions in the comic opera genre. Popularly translated as ‘The Knight of the Rose’, the musical comedy explores complex themes above its seemingly carefree love story. It owes its longevity to Strauss’ catchy tunes but also to the carefully crafted original libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. A classic of epic proportions is coming to the stage of Volksoper Wien in Vienna, and its aristocratic intrigue and convoluted love relations make for a timeless and memorable experience.

The four main characters in Der Rosenkavalier are the ageing Princess Marie Therese von Werdenberg, known as the Marschallin, her much younger lover count Octavian Rofrano, her rough and unsophisticated cousin Baron Ochs, and his young bourgeois fiancée Sophie von Faninal. When Octavian assumes the role of ‘Rosenkavalier’ and present a silver rose to Sophie on behalf of her betrothed Baron, sparks fly between the two youths. Soon it becomes clear they were meant to be together. With the help of the Marschallin who gracefully liberates Octavian of their romantic arrangement, the young lovers manage to carve out a ‘happily ever after’ for themselves.

Though highly popular for its comedic qualities, Der Rosenkavalier allowed Strauss and von Hofmannsthal to explore a number of serious subjects, including the irreversibility of time and ageing, the value of fidelity and commitment, as well as social mobility and relations between ‘old’ and ‘new’ money. Set in the opulent and progressive city of Vienna, the opera offers an authentic depiction of aristocratic life and the complex relationships between generations of lovers and different social strata. The nuances of language different characters use will also offer helpful cues to viewers proficient in German and add an even more immersive note to the delightful performance of Der Rosenkavalier at Volksoper Wien.

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