Published: 2 February, 2012
by SEBASTIAN TAYLOR
David McVicar’s 2008 English National Opera production of Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier is back at the Coliseum providing a glorious night out at the opera.
Opera novices may find the periods of longeur tough going and some of the singing difficult to enjoy. But seasoned opera buffs cannot be but entranced by the orchestral underpinnings and the fine singing and acting by an all-British cast. And for Strauss fans, it’s a must.
Strauss wrote the piece for an orchestra with more than 110 instruments.
Although the ENO’s orchestra has fewer, that doesn’t prevent conductor Edward Gardner from getting the most from the plethora of dazzling waltz rhythms.
And what a cast! There’s Amanda Roocroft as the thirtysomething Princess and Sarah Connolly as her young teenage stud, Octavian, putting a highly erotic charge into the first act bedroom scene.
Rising opera star Sophie Bevan is the young innocent, co-incidentally called Sophie, who steals Octavian’s affections; and John Tomlinson as the bawdy Baron Ochs, betrothed to Sophie – but not after bad behaviour while under the influence.
Tomlinson hams up the middle-aged, paunchy Baron spectacularly in the second act and it’s no surprise poor Sophie revolts against the planned marriage arrangement.
There’s a neat twist to the third act where Octavian is shown as being in two minds whether to opt for boring young Sophie or to have more fun with the highly sexed Princess.
That Octavian opts for Sophie is down to the Princess and their trio is Strauss at his best, Roocroft quite excellent in singing her sorrow about giving up her peccadilloes so that young love can flourish.
• ENO’s Der Rosenkavier is performed on February 4, 11, 17, 24 and 27, at the Coliseum, St Martin’s Lane, WC2, 0871 472 0600, www.eno.org, tickets from £19