Saturday, January 16, 2010

Last night: Der Rosenkavalier at the Met Opera

Unless an act of God turns back time, Susan Graham sang her last Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier at the Met, maybe anywhere. She played it to a sold-out house. It was a beautiful and emotional night at the Metropolitan Opera. We had great seats too, fourth row, center balcony. The applause was loud and appreciative, especially during the curtain call.

Renée Fleming was as fabulous as ever. Even though she's only in the first act and last act, it's a gorgeous role for her voice and she acts the lonely, aging Marschallin with wisdom and regal restraint. I love seeing Susan Graham in a role that allows her to do comedy. The best part of Octavian is that she gets to play young and because he's in love constantly with one woman or another, he gets some juicy lines. The rest of the cast is fun and sufficient - I admit that I'm there for the Marschallin and Octavian, although Sophie is sweet and Christine Schafer played her lovely. Kristinn Sigmundsson is good as the Baron Ochs - he really makes me want to punch him in the nose.

The Met won't do this production again for another 5 years, give or take, but I hope I at least see Renée Fleming in it again somewhere, somehow before then. Der Rosenkavalier was in my first Met subscription in 2004 and my subscription partner was very grumpy about it - he called it Der Frozenkavalier because inevitably the weather turned bad. Neither Renee nor Susan were in it, but I loved it anyway.

Der Rosenkavalier was also the first opera I traveled for - to the Lyric in Chicago where I saw it with my friend Kristen (oh my God, that was another fabulous night and Renée was coincidentally there and visited with us when we went back to see Susan after - she was doing a recital in Chicago). Yes, parts of it are long and clunky and I always want to punch Baron Ochs in the nose, but it's so funny, and oh, the opening act is so beautiful and that presentation of that rose is so thrilling, and then finally the trio comes in Act III when you think you might just have heard the most beautiful sound in the world, and then there are those small moments at the end when the young lovers are free to be with each other. OH! What a thrill.

Usually we go to the green room, but last night we were sent to the dressing room area. It's always a chaos of adoring fans and friends. Mary Jo Heath was there and I told her how much I enjoy her intermission features in the HD Broadcasts. Barbara Cook was there too with her friend Harvey Evans. She consoled Susan Graham (yes, thrilling to be standing next to a Broadway legend as she tells a will be legend, "Darling, you were's always hard to retire a role"). I enjoyed telling Susan that I brought "Midland" with me and she signed a playbill for Cara, her youngest fan. She put on her best West Texas accent and said she'll be in Lubbock (One night only with the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra) next week and her "Mama will be going up from Midland." She admitted that she was congested, but I couldn't tell it in her performance.

It's always fun visiting with Renée and she's always so gracious. Of course, I enjoyed introducing her to my mother again. She signed an autograph for my dear little friend Chelsea (we met as bloggers because of Renée! and today, she's traveling to NYC join me in a friends gathering - once again, friendships inspired by a Diva) - I told Renée that Chelsea owes me a $1,000,000 for handling the autograph and she quite agreed. The cast was leaving for a small gathering in honor of Susan - this was well into the 1:00 am hour. Renée said she wouldn't stay long as she is hosting the Carmen in HD today. We tried to get tickets for this Broadcast - clearly we didn't think ahead on this hit. Lucky her!

The construction at the Met stage door was finally completed since the last time I was there, a fact that was eluded to me. It's perfect - not nearly such a crush of eager autograph seekers now. Noah, Mom and I had the opportunity to visit with Barbara and Harvey, a bit longer (Noah! He, never shy or retiring - I'm so proud!) about a project Harvey worked on that Noah just happened to see. We talked about Rosenkavalier and how much we all love it. Barbara, an avid opera fan as well, was so funny about the glorious moments, but complained about the length (who doesn't!) and all of the silliness that just prolongs it ("that damn bloody arm!). Suddenly she noticed how white Noah's teeth are and then said to me and my mom, you have white teeth too! Harvey pretended as though he had no teeth at all. Apparently, she's concerned about her own teeth because she'll soon be back on Broadway, standing next to Vanessa Williams in Sondheim on Sondheim, which begins a limited run in March. They begin rehearsing in February.

It doesn't get any better than this. From dinner to the cab ride home - the time with friends and family, in the midst of art and artists and patrons, every moment is an unforgettable gem.


Landice Anderson said...

I'm sure the show was absolutely gorgeous. I know this is a very stupid question, but are there any DVDs of Susan as Octavian that I could find somewhere? I'd kill to be able to watch it over and over.

LinGin said...

If you had seat D-108 in the balcony that's my regular Saturday subscription seat for series 3.

Was in house for the matinee broadcast (but not in D-108); I so agree with Barbara Cook -- too much extraneous not-so-funny business that makes the opera lag at times. But the trio always makes it worth it.

I also really liked Thomas Allen's relatively restrained Faninal. The Brits do know how to properly underplay.

Sarah B. Roberts said...

Hi Landice - I'm not sure that Susan's Octavian has been filmed before. That's one for googling. Otherwise, you'll have to wait for this production to make it to the PBS broadcast...hopefully it will make it to DVD.

Linda! That's so cool that I was in your subscription seat - it's fabulous. I'd love to sit front orchestra for every opera I see - it's really the best in the house.