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DVD Review

Richard Strauss

Der Rosenkavalier

Nina Stemme
Vessalina Karsova
Malin Hartelius
Alfred Muff
Chorus of the Zürich Opera House
Orchestra of the Zürich Opera/Franz Welser-Möst
EMI DVD 544258 9 2DVDs 207m
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Its 'Waltz Time' in Vienna but from Zürich 'with love'. With this DVD EMI seems to have issued a trilogy of operas all from the same Theatre and Orchestral and Choral forces, but all with singers, bar Peter Seiffert (Tannhäuser and Die Meistersinger are the other two). Franz Welser-Möst is the ever present conductor.

Although this Opera was premièred in 1911 each time you hear it, the music seems to be more and more immediate, fresh and intoxicating. Much like Viennese champagne, I suppose. But the singers were surely not drinking the stuff as all of the principal ones are marvellous. Nina Stemme (the Marschallin), Alfred Muff (Baron Ochs) and Marin Hartelins (Sophie) are all new to me but judging by their performance they have a great future. Their singing as well as acting is exemplary, considering the taxing parts they are given by the composer.

Vesselina Kasarova is what I expected. Her interpretation of Octavian is polished, assured controlled and totally convincing, not to mention her top register which on the night was strong and relaxed. Although the secondary roles are performed by some truly accomplished singers, this quartet is able to carry the opera to its triumphant conclusion without a blip.

As in the Wagner operas, Franz Welser-Möst keeps things tight but moving pleasantly all through. And what a fine ensemble the Zürich Theatre Orchestra is. I hope we get more opportunities to hear and see them perform. Its Springtime and Waltz time thanks to our Straussian Cavalier. So why not enjoy three and half hours of pure bliss?

Copyright © 2005, Gerald Fenech