This is a new production directed by Robert Carsen with sets by Paul Steinberg, costumes by Brigitte Reiffenstuel, the lighting directors are Robert Carsen and Peter van Praet, and the choreographer was Phillipe Giraudeau.
The production stars Renée Fleming as the Marschallin, Elīna Garanča as Octavian (aka ‘Der Rosenkavalier’), Erin Morley as Sophie, Matthew Polenzani as the Italian Singer (and doubling as the host of the broadcast), Markus Brück as Faninal, and Günther Groissböck as Baron Ochs. The conductor was Maestro Sabastian Weigle.
Both Miss Fleming and Miss Garanča have previously announced that they were singing their respective roles for the last time in this production. As this was also the last performance of the run, it made the presentation even more emotional in a way.
The production itself is moved up to 1911, the year the opera premiered. For the first two acts, and the last part of the third act, this worked well. The only really objective part for me was the start of the third act. The action is clearly moved from an Inn to a brothel – and the costumes for the ladies are scant. This in my opinion was over done. If opera companies want to stay afloat then they need to attract younger audiences to come out. However, this act would stop me from wanting to take children to see a performance of this production in the future.
Overall, this was an emotional performance. You could tell that the Marschallin does not really want to give up her young lover, but also realizes that the eventual loss will come. Our Octavian is clearly in love, in different ways, to both ladies (the Marschallin and Sophie) and is torn in the third act – having to be obviously pushed to go with the younger Sophie. Baron Ochs is not certainly not your traditional Ochs. He is not portrayed as an old man – and is it is clear that he knows what he wants and who cares about the consequences. He was out for fun, and who cares about the consequences or who gets hurt.
Overall, this was a good production and a well deserved thank you to two singers who are saying farewell to their roles in this opera.