SDO Celebrates 100th with “Der Rosenkavalier” by Richard Strauss


"Der Rosenkavalier" by Richard Strauss.

San Diego Opera celebrates its 100-Year Anniversary with company debuts of Twyla Robinson, Anke Vondung and Patrizia Ciofi. Bass-baritone Andrew Greenan returns to sing Baron Ochs

Performance Opens Sunday, April 3, 2011 at 2 PM

It is difficult to fault San Diego Opera’s production of "Der Rosenkavalier" which opened here Sunday afternoon. It benefits from a remarkable depth of casting; there are wonderful performances coming from everybody. It enjoys the superlative playing (although not flawless on Sunday) of the San Diego Symphony under the leadership of Christof Perick.

The opera also boasts a superb Octavian (the character of the title, actually), sung here with earnest passion by German soprano Anke Vondung, and an excellent Baron Ochs, played by British bass-baritone Andrew Greenan with just the right degree of appropriately annoying oaffishness.

The opera requires three female voices of virtually transcendent beauty, and only Vondung really delivers the goods. American soprano Twyla Robinson as the Marschallin and Italian soprano Patrizia Ciofi as Sophie, however, are quite good — if not (to my ears at least) entirely swoon-making. Only those who have seen supreme interpretations of these roles are likely to be a bit let down. There are divas who by their regal bearing alone have almost "stopped the show" with the Marschallin’s Act Three entrance — without singing a note. That sort of magic may have been missing.

And it was a tad disappointing to have stage director Lotfi Mansouri place the three singers far right, far left and dead center during the final trio, one of the glories of all opera. The three singers could not achieve the perfect blend of sound. Mansouri, who has never met a stick he doesn’t want to slap, also tended to infuse the show with broadly comic pantomime — although this approach is not unusual for "Rosenkavalier" and not entirely inappropriate.

The production still looks good. It’s owned by the San Francsico Opera, and both sets and costumes were designed by Thierry Bosquet.

American tenor Stephen Costello earned some spontaneous and well-deserved applause as the Italian singer in Act One, a number Strauss intended as a parody but which always enchants when sung so well.

Many discerning listeners may quibble about one thing or another, but when all is said and done, this was something the company can be proud of.

By David Gregson

From the official press release —

San Diego, CA – San Diego Opera’s 46th International Season continues on Sunday, April 3, 2011 with Richard Strauss’s masterpiece of love and loss, Der Rosenkavalier. These performances, just a few weeks after the 100-year anniversary of the world premiere of this opera, marks the Company debut of American soprano Twyla Robinson in the role of the Marschallin. She is joined by returning British bass-baritone Andrew Greenan in the role of Baron Ochs. Making notable Company debuts in this opera are German mezzo-soprano Anke Vondung in the trouser role of Octavian and Italian soprano Patrizia Ciofi as Sophie. German baritone Hans-Joachim Ketelsen makes his House debut as Herr Von Faninal, San Diego raised German based soprano Stephanie Weiss also makes a House debut as Marianne, American tenor Joel Sorensen returns to sing Valzacchi, American mezzo-soprano Helene Schniderman makes a Company debut as Annina, American bass Kevin Langan returns to sing the Police Commissioner and the Notary, American tenor Simeon Esper returns to sing the role of Herr Von Faninal’s Major Domo as well as the Inn Keeper and American tenor Stephen Costello returns as the Italian Singer. Persian stage director, Lotfi Mansouri, fresh from directing the season opener Turandot, stages the production. German conductor Christof Perick returns to the podium for these performances.

Performed in German with English translations above the stage, Der Rosenkavalier was last performed by San Diego Opera in 1992 and tells the story of the Marschallin’s desire for love and the fear of growing older.

The sets and costumes of Der Rosenkavalier are owned by San Francisco Opera. The sets and costumes were designed by Thierry Bosquet. The Lighting Designer is Michael Whitfield.

Der Rosenkavalier was composed by Richard Strauss to a libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Der Rosenkavalier received its world premiere at the Königliches Opernhaus in Dresden on January 26, 1911. These performances will mark the third time this opera has been performed by San Diego Opera with other performances taking place in 1976 and 1992.

Please note the special performance schedule for this opera, which opens on Sunday, April 3, 2011 at 2 PM.

Performance Schedule

Sunday, April 3, 2011 at 2 PM

Wednesday, April 6, 2011 at 7 PM

Saturday, April 9, 2011 at 6 PM

Tuesday, April 12, 2011 at 7 PM

For more info visit SAN DIEGO OPERA.

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