Der Rosenkavalier

From Academic Kids

Der Rosenkavalier (The Cavalier of the Rose) is a comic opera in three acts by Richard Strauss to an original German libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal, loosely adapted from the novel Les amours du chevalier de Faublas by Louvet de Couvrai and Molière’s comedy Monsieur de Pourceaugnac. It was first performed at the Königliches Opernhaus in Dresden on 26 January 1911.

Der Rosenkavalier is part of the standard operatic repertoire. There are a several recordings of it, and it is regularly performed.

Contents

Characters

  • Principal roles
    • The Marschallin, Marie Thérèse, Princess Werdenberg (soprano)
    • Octavian, Count Rofrano, her young lover (mezzo-soprano)
    • Baron Ochs of Lerchenau, her cousin (bass)
    • Sophie von Faninal (soprano)
  • Minor roles
    • Herr von Faninal, a rich merchant, Sophie's father (baritone)
    • An Italian singer (tenor)
    • The Marschallin's Major Domo (tenor)
    • Four footmen to the Marschallin (2 tenors, 2 basses)
    • A notary (bass)
    • Valzacchi, a spy (tenor)
    • Annina, his niece and accomplice (contralto)
    • Marianne Leitmetzerin, Sophie's duenna (soprano)
    • Faninal's Major Domo (tenor)
    • An inn-keeper (tenor)
    • Four waiters (1 tenor, 3 basses)
    • A Police Commissioner (bass)
  • Other
    • Three noble orphans (soprano, mezzo-soprano, contralto)
    • A milliner (soprano)
    • An animal vendor (tenor)
    • Mohammed, the Marschallin's black page (mute)
    • A scholar, a flautist, two hairdressers, a noble widow (mute)
    • Servants, guests, hired deceivers, children, constables, musicians (chorus)

Plot

Time: 1740s, in the first years of the reign of Empress Maria Thérèse.
Place: Vienna.

Act I

In the her bedchamber, the Marschallin and Octavian exchange vows of love. To avoid scandal, he hides when loud voices are heard in the antechamber. Baron Ochs has unexpectedly arrived to discuss his engagement to Sophie, the daughter of a wealthy merchant. He asks the Marschallin which cavalier should he select to deliver a silver engagement rose to Sophie. Octavian returns disguised as the chambermaid "Mariandel". She recommends Octavian, "Mariandel's" twin brother. Ochs lusts after the chambermaid. The room fills with servants and lawyers. Ochs tells the lawyers to demand a dowry from Sophia's family but hires a pair of spies to watch the shy chambermaid. When all have left, the Marschallin remembers her early marriage and sadly ponders her fleeting youth. When Octavian returns, she suggests that one day he will leave her. He is stunned by her mood change and abruptly leaves. She summons her page to deliver the silver rose to Octavian.

Act II

In his ornate foyer, Herr von Faninal and Sophie receive Octavian. He presents the silver rose to Sophie in an elaborate ceremony. Sophie and Octavian fall in love during a chaperoned conversation. Ochs enters and behaves like a cad and exits to discuss money with her father. Octavian promises to help Sophie and embraces her, but they are discovered by Och's spies, who send for him. Ochs is only amused. He receives a slight wound in a fight with Octavian. Sophie tells her father she never will marry the baron, but her father insists she will. A letter for Ochs arrives from "Mariandel" asking to meet. The now recovered and drunk Ochs, in anticipation of his eminent tryst, dances around the stage to the most delightful of the opera's many waltzes.

Act III

In a private room in an inn, Octavian bribes Ochs's spies to help him prepare a trap. Ochs and "Mariandel" arrive for a private dinner. Ochs tries to seduce the seemingly willing chambermaid, though he is disturbed by her resemblance to Octavian. The guilt-ridden baron catches glimpses of the heads of Octavian's conspirators as they pop out of secret doors. A woman rushes in claiming that Ochs is her husband and the father of her children. The police arrive, and to avoid a scandal, Ochs claims the "Mariandel" is his fiancée Sophie. Furious for being enmeshed in the scandal, Faninal arrives and sends for Sophie to clear his and his daughter's name. Sophie arrives and asks the baron to leave her alone. The Marschallin enters, orders the baron to leave, and quickly ends the scandal. She is resigned to her fate, and sadly releases her young lover to Sophie. The young pair rejoice in their love.

Noted arias

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