Delightful and Well-Received Der Rosenkavalier under Kirill Petrenko

GermanyGermany Strauss, Der Rosenkavalier: Soloists, Bayerische Staatsoper Chorus and Orchestra / Kirill Petrenko (conductor), Nationaltheater, Munich, 21.3.2018. (JMI)

Bayerische Staatsoper’s Der Rosenkavalier © W. Hösl

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 – Ulrike Helzel
Police – Peter Lobert
Marschallin’s Majordomo – Manuel Günther
Faninal’s Majordomo – Kevin Conners
Notary – Christian Rieger

Director – Otto Schenk
Sets and Costumes – Jürgen Rose

I came to Munich mainly to see the new production of Les vêpres siciliennes, but also to enjoy the perennially popular Der Rosenkavalier under the baton of Kirill Petrenko. The latter was very enjoyable, especially in terms of the musical direction and the staging: Otto Schenk’s beautiful production, which is now 46 years old (review).

One expects the best from Kirill Petrenko although, on this occasion, his conducting did not always reach the level that is usually the rule. His reading was most effective in the final act, which was exceptional. The tempos were faster than usual, which might have contributed to the lack of emotion at times, and the sound from the pit was sometimes excessive, considering the voices on stage. This was particularly noticeable in the opening scene of the Marschallin and Octavian, and at moments in the second act. The Bayerische Staatsorchester is a splendid group, and under Petrenko it sounded even better than usual.

Octavian was played by mezzo-soprano Angela Brower, who has a fresh, attractive and well-handled voice, and knows how to express feeling in her singing. Her biggest problem lies in the fact that her vocal volume is somewhat reduced, which was particularly notable in the first act of the opera.

The Marschallin was interpreted by soprano Adrianne Pieczonka, whom I had not seen in this character since she sang it in Bilbao 18 years ago. She has a beautiful voice, and her performance was convincing in every way, especially in Act III.

Once again, Baron Ochs was played by Peter Rose, who is totally at home in this character. However, his voice falls short in the lowest notes, and I have the impression that his volume is reduced from a few years ago.

Soprano Hanna-Elisabeth Müller as Sophie repeated her magnificent performance of a couple years ago. It is difficult to find today a better Sophie than hers – she is practically perfect.

Markus Eiche was an appropriate Faninal, and tenor Lawrence Brownlee did well as the Italian Singer in Act I. The secondary characters were nicely covered in all cases.

The house was full, and the audience was very pleased with the performance, offering ovations and bravos to the artists, especially to the three female performers, as well as to Kirill Petrenko. Unexpectedly, Jürgen Rose, who designed the sets and costumes, came out for the final bows, and was received with great affection and enthusiasm.

 José M. Irurzun

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