One woman steals the show in ENO’s wonderful production of Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier – Sarah Connolly is a tremendous Octavian. She gives a whole-hearted performance reprising this famous trouser role, both her singing and acting are a triumph, so natural, believable and witty. Amanda Roocroft also excels as Octavian’s royal lover, the Feldmarschallin, with a radiant and smooth voice that bounces in the Coliseum beautifully.
There is some great comic acting from seasoned opera god Sir John Tomlison as a hilarious Baron Ochs, and Andrew Shore as Herr von Faninal. Also Gwyn Hughes Jones should not be forgotten, his rich and resonant voice soars in the role of the Singer. The sumptuous set provides a fitting backdrop for Strauss’ stylish characters, it is a pleasure to watch.
As for the opera, well I have definitely never seen so much girl on girl kissing and groping on an operatic stage… but the ENO is not one to shy away from bold statements. When I think back to A Dog’s Heart and the rampant lead character, half man half hound, who screams at the audience while stark naked on stage, Rosenkavalier seems tame in comparison.
Be warned this opera is verging on Wagner length, it commences at 6.30pm to allow the epic four hour performance to run its course. I must admit I felt very tired in the final act and yet not bored for one moment – the action is fresh and imaginative throughout, credit to Director and Set Designer David McVicar, an operatic visionary. This production is not new to the Coliseum stage, McVicar premiered it in 2008, and it has enjoyed success ever since.
Edward Gardner is, as usual, exceptional in the pit, conducting his orchestra with gusto and producing a rich and boisterous sound, appropriately triumphant and joyous. It must be pretty exhausting conducting a four hour marathon but Gardner shows unfaltering stamina, boundless energy and musicianship.
This is a spectacular rendition of Strauss’ charming Viennese comedy – only six performances remain so you’ll have to book quick.
Visit the website and book here.