tue 16/07/2024

Prom 6: Der Rosenkavalier, LPO, Ticciati | reviews, news & interviews

Prom 6: Der Rosenkavalier, LPO, Ticciati

Prom 6: Der Rosenkavalier, LPO, Ticciati

The Albert Hall may not be ideal for opera but Glyndebourne's latest visit fizzed with energy

Tara Erraught as Octavian and Kate Royal as the Marschallin in 'Der Rosenkavalier'BBC/Chris Christodoulou

If last year’s Ring cycle triumphantly proved that world-class opera can be done at the Albert Hall, this Rosenkavalier suggests that the less epic end of the repertoire isn’t such a sure thing. That is not to say that this performance was dud, far from it; rather that its few problems were venue related.

Balance was the main issue, though Robin Ticciati did a great job of whipping the London Philharmonic Orchestra into a passionate frenzy in the Prelude and then taking things down a notch and keeping them there to avoid engulfing the voices. The audience will have had a different experience depending on where they were sitting, or indeed standing: it is always said that the promenaders get the best sound though it is unlikely to have been the case here, with the singers on a platform set above and behind the orchestra.

With that introductory negativity out of the way, the actual performance element deserves glowing praise. The makeshift stage allowed plenty of room for the singers to act – by no means a given – and with the Glyndebourne costumes intact and some crucial furniture and props, there was enough to nudge this into the realm of a genuine theatrical experience.

Of the advertised cast – the same that appeared at Glyndebourne – two dropped out at late notice due to illness, but it is hard to imagine them being much better than their replacements, with Franz Hawlata (Baron Ochs) and Louise Alder (Sophie) taking on their linchpin roles with great assurance. Hawlata (pictured below right), who has sung Ochs many times before (most recently in Birmingham), captured the privileged buffoonery perfectly. Alder, who got a few bites of the cherry understudying her role at Glyndebourne, confirmed that she’s ready for top billing, with her delicate, floated "himmlische" on smelling the rose being one of the most memorable moments.

Franz Hawlata as Baron Ochs. Photo: BBC/Chris ChristodoulouKate Royal made her journey from saucy to imperious as the Marschallin, anchoring the bittersweet centre of the piece, while Tara Erraught’s Octavian was every bit the young peacock strutting about hardly believing his luck, as well as doing a great comic turn as the bumpkin Mariandel.

The richly indulgent trio which brings the three leads together in Act 3 was paced beautifully by Ticciati though, again, one suspects those listening at home on the radio might have had an improved balance between singers and orchestra.

The smaller roles all worked together towards the satisfying whole, not least Michael Kraus (Faninal), Miranda Keys (Marianne), and the scheming duo of Valzacchi and Annina played with gusto by Christopher Gillett and Helene Schneiderman. Honourable mention too for Andrej Dunaev whose moment in the spotlight as an over-the-top Italian tenor was delightfully embraced.

It was a shame that a choice was made to issue a full libretto to programme buyers rather than put up a few surtitle screens. On the one hand it meant that those on a budget were severely disadvantaged; on the other, that those with the booklet tended to be buried in it. Also, what was printed was the full Hugo von Hofmannsthal text, complete with stage directions, which were not necessarily followed by Richard Jones’s production (adapted by Sarah Fahie for the Proms) . From the six-foot tall ‘little black boy’ to the Baron’s flesh wound (upper arm in the libretto, more amusingly the bottom on stage) these were minor but also easily avoided distractions.

Tara Erraught’s Octavian was every bit the young peacock strutting about hardly believing his luck


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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