Sunday, December 10, 2006

Der Rosenkavalier in Paris

Too bad my camera batteries died. I could take no pictures of glorious Angela Denoke, a regal and very human Marschallin. Isn't the Marschallin the most human of characters, though?

In the title role, Daniela Sindram sang and acted with intelligence. Her subtlety and sensitivity impressed me. I won't soon forget the adorable way Octavian covered his head with a pillow in Act I, as the Marschallin taunts him, or the priceless look of embarrassment on his face and in his gestures in Act II as Sophie mentions "Quinquin" as one of Octavian's names.

Heidi Grant Murphy was a lovely, if somewhat underpowered, Sophie.

I arrived at the Bastille a good fifteen minutes prior to curtain (that's super early for me), and I picked up my program (10 euro). What a striking cover! Alas, with fresh batteries, I guess I do have something to show you:

A mirror. The set consisted of large paneled mirrors that folded, sometimes reflecting the audience, sometimes reflecting set images. Provocative, given that the opera contains one of the most eloquent meditations on aging. What better calls attention to our own aging than a mirror? The director clearly wants to underline the universality of the Marschallin's struggle.

At the same time, there is something quite specific about the Marschallin's position. (For the moment I'm putting aside the historical and political setting.) A mature woman, she has a lover still in his teens, and she knows that "today or tomorrow or the next day," he will love someone else. She knows this can't last.

There's something heartbreakingly beautiful about the grace with which she gives Octavian to this girl she doesn't know. In that luminous trio, she sings that she vowed to love him, even to love his love for another woman.

But it's not all about the boy, of course. In giving him up, she acknowledges that she is aging. She carries this painful reality with dignity and poise. Faninal invites her into his realm--as an older person--with his statement, "That's how they are, the young folk!" She confirms her separation from (the) youth and says goodbye forever with her famous response, "Ja, ja".

In the Wernicke production, the Marschallin enters a carriage stage right and Faninal enters another stage left. The carriages slowly glide into the wings as the young couple sings of its dreamlike happiness. I feel there's some irony in their bliss. The notion that it's like a dream suggests that one day they too will wake up.

This hope tinged with wistfulness makes me think of that wonderful line that ends The Light in the Piazza: "May it last forever."

1 comment:

tasb89 said...

Lovely account.
I'm a bit surprised HGM was underpowered.
One of the really interesting things about the Marschallin is that she is only 34 years old. It is not so much that she is old, but that she realizes she will get old.
Now, to me, of course, 34 is not old. ha!
When she looks in the mirror she does not see an old woman, actually she is quite beautiful. She realizes, however, she will lose her youth and beauty. Therefore her wish to "stop the clocks" and stay young and beautiful and not age.

Sounds like a wonderful production. I love this opera.