A comedic opera centering around the wedding gift of a silver rose, Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss has a complex plot, which involves a love affair between an older woman and her young lover, an arranged marriage between a baron and a blushing bride, and a network of webs that interlink the characters.
Whimsical capers and a surprising amount of slapstick humour combine with the deeper themes of love and the loss of it. Particularly poignant were the remarks on ageing made by the wealthy older lady, the Marschallin (played by Ylva Kihlberg), who laments over the passing of time, and the fact that one day her young lover will leave her for another.
One of the main characters who shone in his role was Henry Waddington as Baron Ochs of Lerchenau, a pompous member of the upper class who causes upset to those around him by the rowdy behaviour of himself and his band of scoundrels. The audience truly felt the growing discomfort of his bride Sophie Faninal (played by Fflur Wyn) as he fully encapsulated his lecherous character.
“An actor who filled their role well was the Italian tenor, played by Jung Soo Yun”
Aled Hall and Helen Evora were also very impressive in their roles of Valzacchi and Annina, the gossiping Italians, as their intricate scheming added excitement to the plot, and the characters were reminiscent of the Thenardiers from Les Miserables. An actor who filled their role well was the Italian tenor, played by Jung Soo Yun, whose projection and comic timing added to what was a minor role in the plot. Another character that was surprisingly memorable was the Marschallin’s servant, played by Durassie Kiangangu. His graceful deliberate movements across the stage left a great impression on the audience, even though he did not even have a line.
“the room could be changed from a luxurious gilded boudoir to a seedy inn”
David McVicar’s staging was elegant and easily adaptable to the plot, as by varying the colour of the furnishings, the room could be changed from a luxurious gilded boudoir to a seedy inn. This was complimented by the lavish costumes designed by Tanya McCallin. The lilting tunes of Strauss were conducted well by Aleksandar Markovic, who showed off the king of waltz’s music to its best, with rich sounds from the brass section, especially striking during a waltz that the Baron and his illegitimate son Leopold (Mark Burghagen) dance to.
“this did not overshadow Fflur Wyn’s ethereal high notes, and the beautiful harmonies performed”
My only complaint would be that at points the singers seemed to be drowned out by the orchestra, and there were points where it was difficult to hear the lyrics over the music, particularly in some of the duet sections in Act 3. Luckily, this did not overshadow Fflur Wyn’s ethereal high notes, and the beautiful harmonies performed by the three ladies (Ylva Kihlberg, Helen Sherman and Fflur Wyn) in one of the closing pieces of the show.