Back for a Second Night: the Bayerische Staatsoper in a Joyous Der Rosenkavalier

United StatesUnited States Strauss, Der Rosenkavalier: Soloists, Bayerische Staatsoper Chorus and Orchestra / Kirill Petrenko (conductor), Carnegie Hall, New York. 29.3.2018. (RP)

Adrianne Pieczonka (Marschallin), Peter Rose (Ochs) & Kirill Petrenko (conductor) © Stefan Cohen


Octavian – Angela Brower
Marschallin – Adrianne Pieczonka
Ochs – Peter Rose
Sophie – Hanna-Elisabeth Müller
Faninal – Markus Eiche
Italian Singer – Lawrence Brownlee
Marianne – Miranda Keys
Valzacchi – Ulrich Ress
Annina – Helene Schneiderman
Police Commissioner – Peter Lobert
Marschallin’s Majordomo, Faninal’s Majordomo, Innkeeper – Kevin Conners
Notary – Christian Rieger

When Kirill Petrenko and the Bayerisches Staatsorchester returned to Carnegie Hall for the second of their two appearances, it was with soloists and chorus for Der Rosenkavalier. Except for a few minor role changes, it is the same cast that just finished a run at the Nationaltheater in Munich. (See review.) Even without sets and costumes, this was a Rosenkavalier to celebrate.

I could not believe it when I read in José M. Irurzun’s review that he had heard Adrianne Pieczonka as the Marschallin 18 years ago. She has managed to stop the clock. Her voice is fresh and resplendent, soaring above the orchestra effortlessly, and she emanates sensuality, glamour and confidence as the Marschallin.

With only the slightest of costume changes, Angela Brower’s Octavian was totally believable as a young swain and an awkward, but wily, country girl, her voice fresh and vibrant. If it came off a bit light for an Octavian, that might be because she was up against the Sophie of Hanna-Elisabeth Müller.

Time was in New York that the role of Sophie was associated with light coloratura sopranos with smallish voices of crystalline purity. Müller does not fit that mold at all, and she was outstanding in the role. Her Sophie has spirit and power, but her bewilderment and resignation when she thought that Octavian would spurn her for the Marschallin was truly touching. The final trio, where the Marschallin, Octavian and Sophie reflect on the vagaries of life and the passage of time, was glorious.

A great Ochs has an ego that knows no limits, but he has the wisdom to recognize when he is bested and to withdraw. Peter Rose, once again, displayed those traits and his complete mastery of the part. His low notes sound, but they do not boom. That might just be too coarse for such an aristocrat, albeit one that has a price tag on everything and is always ready for a romp in the hay.

The supporting roles were vividly portrayed. Lawrence Brownlee was luxury casting as the Italian tenor. Helene Schneiderman was a wry, scheming Annina, seemingly one step ahead of the stolid Valzacchi of Ulrich Ress. The only person on stage as pompous as Ochs was the Faninal of Markus Eiche. He had climbed his way to the top, and he was staying there. The versatile Kevin Conners undertook three roles. Artists of such high caliber and experience in supporting roles make all the difference in the world.

The orchestra was brilliant in a work that is part of its artistic DNA. Granted Der Rosenkavalier premiered in Dresden in 1911, but who is going to quibble about that? As with the prior evening’s concert, the opera unfolded in sweeping, dynamic extremes, but balance was seldom an issue and never at a critical juncture. Perhaps surprisingly, perhaps not, Petrenko receded into the background even though he was center stage, but he was in total command. One thing is indisputable, there was joy in this performance.

A final note. I have been to a lot of concerts in halls around the world, but this was the first time that I recall a group of the players gathering on stage for a photo during an intermission. Good to know that debuting at Carnegie Hall is still a big deal, even for one of the best opera orchestras in the world.

Rick Perdian

For more about what is on at Carnegie Hall click here.

Leave a Comment