The knight of the Rose //
Comedy for music in three acts · Libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal
In light of Richard Strauss’ 150th anniversary this year, Weimar simply had to present a new production of »Der Rosenkavalier« (The Knight of the Rose) – a work which was conceived here in Weimar by Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Harry Graf Kessler. »The figures were there interacting before us – the buffo, the old man, the young girl, the lady, the cherubim.« In fact, Strauss and Hofmannsthal envisioned an opera buffa in the style of a Mozart singspiel – the first attempt at this comic genre for both of them. The backdrop they chose was Vienna anno 1740 – according to Strauss, »an entire city with all its social estates which intermingle and attempt to distinguish themselves from the others, with its ceremonial character, its social classification, its class-based way of speaking, with the presumed proximity to the imperial court.«
The play is a comedy of mistaken identities, the centre of which is the field marshal’s wife Lady Werdenberg whose reflections on the temporality of life makes her a moral authority. She dispatches her young lover Octavian to woo Sophie on behalf of her lecherous cousin Baron Ochs auf Lerchenau and to give Sophie a silver rose as tradition dictates. However, Octavian and Sophie fall in love with each other instead. Only an intrigue can reveal the true nature of Baron Ochs and bring the young couple together. In the end Lady Werdenberg generously gives up claim to her lover, saying »I’ve promised myself to love him in the right way«.
Since its world premiere in Dresden in 1911, this »comedy for music« remains widely popular among audiences today. The new production in Weimar is being directed by Vera Nemirova, one of the most successful female directors of our time, who has staged works for the Staatsoper Berlin, the Oper Frankfurt (»Ring of the Nibelung«) the Vienna Staatsoper and the Salzburg Festspiele.