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An all-too-decadent Rosenkavalier at the Met: Serafin, Morley, Coote, and Gardner

25 November 2013

Jonathan Tichler

Nathaniel Merrill’s production of Der Rosenkavalier opened at the Metropolitan Opera on 23 January 1969. To put that in perspective, Richard Nixon had been sworn in as President as the United States only a few days earlier. James Levine had not even made his debut at the Met, let alone become its music director.

Quite a lot has changed in the interim, to put it mildly. “Strauss is in bad repute these days”, moaned the critic of theNew York Times, Harold C. Schonberg, in his review of the première. Interviewed a few weeks later, Der Rosenkavalier’s conductor, Karl Böhm, deplored the vacuity of contemporary music. Böhm, who had premièred Strauss’ Die schweigsame Frau and Daphne, declared that there “are no modern composers who interest me”. Who did he single out for particular criticism? The man whose anniversary was being celebrated in New York’s major concert halls while I was listening to this revival: Benjamin Britten.

Read the rest of my review of a decidedly mixed Rosenkavalier at Bachtrack here.

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