A new feature perhaps? Mostly I just love this photo.
Elina Garanca in the 2017 Met production.
A new feature perhaps? Mostly I just love this photo.
Elina Garanca in the 2017 Met production.
AKA: The HD Edition
So just to be clear:
cut off at the top there, it says:
horns practicing their swooning-intervals”
So please note the all caps, then, is BEFORE THE CURTAIN EVEN RISES. In fact it was during the “opening credits” where they show some of the bits of the opera with the names of the singers and such, and there, larger than life, were Octavian and the Marschallin kissing on the couch and I thought, I may not survive this.
I said to my beloved afterwards, when I was still mostly speechless but we had wandered a few blocks looking for a coffee, somehow being at the Met in April made the HD experience even better. And also, the HD experience made being at the Met in April *also* even better. I was still having trouble stringing words together so I had trouble explaining, and I still do kind of, but I think what I mean is:
1) We were THERE, in the house, and it made watching it on screen feel so much more real, to know how it feels in house, how the space is, the depth of it. Plus just the lovely giddiness of “we’ve been there, we’ve been there!” and during audience shots from the stage we could point out our seats (generally, wayyyy up there) to our friends.
2) Seeing the “close-up” version actually confirmed a lot of what I thought I was seeing from up in the Family Circle. Plus we missed a few things – mostly what would have been hard to pick up from there, but 1 in particular so obvious I wondered if they’d added since – Sophie tears off her “Presentation” gown and throws it at her father’s feet towards the end of Act 2. A really powerful move I can’t believe we both missed! The close-up did make the moment where Ochs loses is toupee funnier — because yesterday he didn’t lose it, quite, it dangled off the back, and Elina kind of looked at and giggled, then squashed it back on his head, then it came off in her hands a moment later, and she looked at it and shrugged and stuffed it in her bosom. I was glad to see *that* close up. She handled it brilliantly and hilariously.
3) But for making our April experience better…maybe better is not the right word. May enhancing in affirmation that yes, yes this was incredible, and beautiful, and that my eyes and ears were not deceiving me about what I saw and heard and the meaning I was making from all of it. Not that I really thought they were, deceiving me that is, but…well, like I said, this part is hard to put into words. Something about the historic-ness of the whole run, the love the singers clearly have for it, how astounding it was, with a new production that I find so thought-provoking, and Renée‘s last run of it (and Elina’s too! and she’s so good!)…and I just felt/feel overwhelmed that we got to see it in-house too.
So again, to be clear. I started tearing up hearing the horns warm up that theme that comes in the overture, then again after the Marschallin says “Ich hab’ dich lieb” in the opening of Act 1 and so powerfully with “Heut’ oder morgen” at the end of that act (and other times too but those come to mind first). Oh hold on, it’s this one:
Anyway yes. I started tearing up there. Then the “oh my god I’m gonna die in all caps” moment and then (no tears) Peter Gelb yadda yadda and then the overture started.
I cried the moment the curtain went up until Ochs showed up. Basically. I was awash in emotion – to get to see this AGAIN and know that it would be good because I already knew it would be good and to see them so up close and oh my god this is the last time for both of them, the last time, and I got to see them. I got to see her. I got to see her TWICE. And how is she, how are they getting through this without falling apart? And oh god how Octavian *looks* at her, and she looks back, and can this just…can we just stop the clocks and not ever end this?
Oh and also kissing, and hands, and longing looks, and…
…and the singing, and the acting, and the orchestra…
I felt like everyone, yesterday, brought everything they had to this moment. Not in the sense of over-acting or over-singing, but of bringing their whole hearts, their whole best for this, the last of the run and the last for the two. (I didn’t *not* feel that on 4/17 but I definitely did yesterday). There were a few moments when I wondered, particularly for Renée, if they were feeling their own emotion – there were a few times where there was just a bit of an extra pause with a phrase, a breath, a look – at the end of Act 1, and the end of Act 3 (where in both cases the text is certainly not helping with the letting go of things).
At the end of Act 1, the way it’s staged, the Marschallin puts on her coat and hat at the back of the stage, then walks to the front and looks, as if in a mirror perhaps, or out a window? All while the solo violin is doing its heartbreaking lonely thing. Yesterday…she walked to the front, and looked…and it seemed just a little longer than 4/17, and it felt like we were all holding our breath (I was, and then tears started again), and the moment stretched for an age, impossibly, as she kept looking out, kept looking out, and to me it felt like time had actually suspended itself somehow, and I thought: “Does she actually want to leave?”
And then she turned, and walked away from us, out three great sets of doors, and I wanted to stand up and holler: “NO! Please don’t go!”
But I settled for crying instead. And smelling salts.
All throughout I felt such a depth to Elina’s Octavian, this young person trying to figure things out. Her portrayal was very moving to me, especially at the end of Act 1 and Act 3 where you can see Octavian is hurting, confused, and in Act 3 really does not want to hurt Sophie or the Marschallin (which perhaps, make him not like all men). So much heart there. I picked up some of that on 4/17 but even more so yesterday. A fully enfleshed character that I want to think more about (and usually my only thought about Octavian is, why don’t you choose the Marschallin?).
I’ll finish up this post by saying the Marschallin’s entrance in Act 3 to the end was just…I stopped breathing. I think everyone on stage was feeling the moment, and I certainly was, and I was just in awe. Everything seemed to be charged, like I could feel it in my skin, and it was all I could do to hold on.
I thought I would cry during the Trio, but I was just too in awe I think? It was so powerful, so beautiful, so heartwrenching on so many levels, that I’m sure my mouth was just agape. I was definitely on the edge of my seat. As soon as the last note sounded, though, and the audience started to roar, I began to sob.
I wept, from joy and the overwhelming heart-rending beauty of it and the “oh my god we SAW this, in the house, oh my god,” from that moment all the way through the curtain call (oh Renée) until the broadcast ended I was still sitting there, spent, sniffling, my beloved smiling down at me as she stood to gather her things.
That much beauty makes me so happy to be alive, in this moment,
and to have witnessed this TWICE.
And that I got to share that experience with my beloved is so wonderful.
And that y’all have shared it with me too, a gift.
Make us glad, make us glad, make us glad.
~ ~ ~
I will say more, including more thoughts about the production itself (I really really hope they release this on DVD because I want to watch it over and over for all the details! Well and obviously Renée but also! It’s a production that makes me THINK, and I love that), but I wanted to get this first wave of emotion-laden thoughts out for you.
Three weeks plus now since we came home and – sigh – it’s been full. Full of being the FierceRev, in the streets and organizing meetings and courtrooms and preaching seminars and podcasting and sermon-writing and celebrations and…well whew. And still feeling very protective of this experience in a way, as I shared in my last post. But I tell you.
Three weeks and I’m not over it, and I don’t ever want to be over it, to be honest, and if you ask me about it I will still cry.
In all that these three weeks have brought, more than once a day, more than twice a day, I have closed my eyes and brought myself to the Family Circle, as the overture plays and my knees are shaking and the curtain rises on an inner wall of the Marschallin’s palace, a ginormous double door in the center and Octavian, all moony-eyed, wanders out and lights a cigarette and I squeeze my cielo’s hand any moment any moment any moment and the door is ajar and then finally finally the Marschallin steps through the door and leans on the frame and the birds are calling and away we go and I can barely be contained and all I have to do is close my eyes and remember and I am there, I am there and in my being the musical line soars and so do I…
Wie du bist
Wie du bist
Wie du bist….
If ever an opera swooned along with you, it would be this one…
~ ~ ~
I’ve actually been working on this post over the span of these three-plus weeks. I keep waiting for my thoughts to coalesce in some sort of whole, but they won’t. Perhaps they aren’t meant to. So, here we are, logical order of whatever be damned, haha.
So, I have a developing theory about Rosenkavalier, and I’ve come to it by watching and listening to Renée sing the end of Act 1 monologue/duet repeatedly. In particular: I bought the DVD of the Baden-Baden Rosenkavalier and watched it while I was on retreat a month ago (you can see part of that scene here). What I noticed then, after the levee and the Marschallin dismisses Ochs with impatience, is that her change of mood is not first about “the passing of time,” but about Ochs, and how he’s going to make a profit off of marrying Sophie. It’s what she “talks” about first. And she remembers how she too was forced into the same kind of marriage, when she was just a girl “fresh from the convent” (like Sophie). “Where is she now?” The pondering about time comes after she wonders what has happened to that little Resi, that young woman (girl?) sold off for profit.
What I mean is, I knew that is in the text, but I didn’t get the meaning of it until I watched Renée embody it.
Listening to the Met radio broadcast this past Saturday on a lovely drive to hike in the wilderness, Mary Jo Heath interviewed Renée about Rosenkavalier and the Marschallin. Through the static as we went around mountain curves we heard her talk about this as her favorite role, how she’s grown in her understanding of it, and the end of Act 1 as her favorite part of the opera.
“You can tell,” I said when the interview was over, “you can tell it’s her favorite part, she pays such close attention to the text, to what is happening around and inside this character.”
And yes, we all know I go all mooney-eyed-Octavian over her but it’s also this: Renée loves this role, and it shows, and I love watching her/listening to her work her way through it. This was no less the case this night at the Met.
What more can we ask of a singer, than to love the role? Obviously to sing well, as well as one can in the moment, but also: to love the role. To love the text, to love what the music is teaching us, to love the inner life of the character (and there is so much inner life to the Marschallin).
So because Renée is so thoughtful about this character, I am too. I love her commitment to the role. What a gift to be able to witness her, in house, as she navigated this role she loves, with such attention to the text and its details.
She taught me to pay attention.
So I did. I watched in the Baden-Baden production how she’s weary from the beginning of that Act 1 monologue, she orders everyone out, Ochs out finally and she’s so over it all. She has not yet begun pondering about “the passing of time,” precisely, she is wondering what has happened to her. And she doesn’t like it. It’s in her face but even moreso it’s how she uses the consonants. Like they cause her pain (the album is on Spotify if you want to listen. You can see it in the 2010 Met production too, though I think the 2009 Baden Baden is even wearier. Interesting the difference a production can make).
Da geht er hin, der aufgeblasene schlechte Kerl…
There he goes, that bloated, worthless guy….
Same at the Met. Even though I could not see her facial expressions well from where we sat, her verbal ones were crystal clear, diction and color. There’s anguish there.
So I saw this in the DVD and began thinking about it, reading the libretto, listening again to sections, reading and listening to interviews (and emailing Anik German questions, deepest of thanks!). What is the Marschallin saying? What is Octavian saying (to her and to Sophie both). And brought with me to the Met this idea that I was noodling around with:
Rosenkavalier is not, even as Renée (and literally everyone) says it is (sorry! I’m so sorry! Can we have tea and talk about it?), about simply “the passage of time” and “growing old” and giving way to young love. The passing of time, and the Marschallin’s concern with it, comes in a context, and that context is patriarchy and misogyny and militarism. (Which surprises me since it’s written by two men but well, there you go).
I think about things like:
One last thought about all this which is: that famous line of the Marschallin’s about stopping all the clocks. Why doesn’t anyone ever point out that Ochs says 3 times, “it’s all going like clockwork.” Twice in Act 2 and once in Act 3.
1. Geht all’s so wie am Schnurl! (umlaut on the u in Schnurl).
2. Geht all’s rech am Schnurl so wie z’Haus.
3. …dass in Wien all’s so wie am Schnurl geht.
All three times Ochs is gloating that he’s about to get what he wants: 1. Sophie and a big wad of cash. 2. Mariandel and well… 3. Let off by the police commission (in which case he’s saying he assumes all in Vienna goes like clockwork). “Like clockwork” means he assumes everything is structured and moves so that he gets what he wants – money, power, prestige, sex, presumed innocence.
Stop all the clocks.
Well, these are the thoughts that have been rambling around in my head since the end of March, stirred even more by the Met show, and I come back to what provoked them, which was Renée.
Basically (I’m still rambling here) there’s no way on earth I wasn’t going to love her. Right? I did. Her own passion at the beginning of Act 1, gradually shifting over the act til you’re left hearbroken as she leaves for church, alone, at the end. (I cried. Did I mention I cried?) Then her dignified anguish at the end of Act 3. In the 2010 production you see that some (OK I cried then too) but even more so now.
I love the action there, by the way, the coming together then bursting apart like that coinciding with the music, I find it very powerful. Even from the Family Circle it was effective, it felt like a punch in the chest making everything even more…just…I mean who really has words for the Trio?…and then the way the Marschallin walks off, ugh, my heart already, my heart!
So since we’re on that subject, here are some production related thoughts, too.
All right so…I’m going to stop here! For now that is. Tomorrow we will go see the Met HD broadcast (BECAUSE OF COURSE WE ARE, that was on my calendar before we even knew we were going to the Met) and I know I will have more to say then! (Like, I have another whole set of things to say about Octavian and how Elina Garanca actually made me believe Octavian is a 17 year old BOY).
But you can be sure. There will be swooning. And crying. And more of same.
Smelling salts already packed.
Again, production photos by Ken Howard, via Facebook.
This is long, and written over several days, and it’s only Part 1. Enjoy!
I don’t really even know where to begin.
Oh goodness. As I said in my previous post, we were smart to do the front-of-the-house tour in the morning, because I was still so very beside myself when we came back for Rosenkavalier in the evening. We took many photos out front in our fine duds – my red shirt matches both my cielo’s heels *and* the Rosenkavalier red, ahem. Of course I had to take the photo above too! Then we went inside and waited for the ticket line to open.
My heart was pounding, waiting. We sat next to two nice women who chat
ted with us. On our left was a former opera singer (“now I play the ukele”) who was also at the Met for the first time. On my right was an elder who has been coming forever. We talked about our excitement and I kept checking the tickets in my hand – yes, yes, we’re really here, I have the tickets, it is today – and the clock on the wall (nobody stop the clock, not today!). Finally it was time, and we got in line and moved through quickly.
Even being in line was exciting because sitting on the stand next to our ticket scanner was the little chime they play to let you know intermission is over – which I’ve heard so many times at the end of the Opera Quiz on radio broadcasts. That made me smile.
Finally we were in, and (with more photos of course) made our way up to the Family Circle. Coming into the house, we could hear the orchestra warming up, and looking up into the gold glowing ceiling my heart warmed. Seeing the ceiling, the iconic sputnik chandeliers, the curtained stage, and hearing the orchestra made it clear: We are really here, in this space, with this music, about to experience something I trusted would be extraordinary, because it already was.
We found our seats, my legs bouncing with anticipation. I loved hearing the orchestra warm up, especially the horns practicing their runs and leaps. (Being a former horn player myself, I’m partial.) They sounded glorious. We were waaaay up, and I was pleased how clearly we could hear the music from there.
I must have posted about the warm up then, and then put my phone away (charging on a extra battery to be sure I could update y’all at intermission. 🙂 ) so I could just be present. Again, more smelling salts to help, and some rose tincture to open my heart up for the whole experience. I tapped my cielo’s knee. “So when those chandeliers start to go up” —
And then the chandeliers started to go up! And the lights started to dim! And I started to cry again! I tapped her knee more. “It’s starting, It’s starting!” And I took her hand and the orchestra tuned, and the conductor came in, and we all clapped, and away we went!
I mean, what can I even say? I loved it. I loved every minute of it.
I’m sitting here remembering, and sighing to myself. You don’t expect me to be objective, do you?
The orchestra sounded amazing up there, so clear, I heard layers of sound and detail I never had before. There was a crispness and shimmer to the lushness of sound, a clarity. And they were definitely on fire, horns (of course) ringing, strings rich. Winds well defined (at one point I took the binoculars to watch the bassoonist, so there you go). In the opening chords of the Trio the strings sounded so full of gorgeous depth, like a choir, like an organ, underneath Renee’s voice, I had never heard that before, as many times as I’ve listened to the Trio (which is…a lot). Blog friend Stray commented on the solo violin at the end of Act 1, and yes, it was so gorgeous and longing.
There were times when the voices didn’t *quite* reach us. That was across the board so I think was a matter of our seats, and not the singers. But then, there were also moments when the voices carried like waves – Renee’s “Du bist mein Bub, du bist mein Schatz” in the opening scene, Erin Morley’s exquisite floating high notes when presented with the Rose, she and Elina’s duet later in that act, and the Trio, which just washed over me – those moments in particular stay in my mind (and heart).
What can I say? I keep trying to figure out how to organize my thoughts, but they won’t, so just…well, from here on out this will get much less linear, haha.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Erin Morley: A discovery for me, for sure. I’d not heard/seen her that I’m aware of, but she impressed me. Great stage presence, and there was a dignity to her Sophie, especially as the opera progressed. Loved her voice, and as I wrote at the 2nd intermission (and above), those high notes in the Presentation of the Rose that are supposed to stun you? They did! I whispered “oh my God” when she effortlessly flung the first one up to us, and again with the second. Even flung doesn’t seem like the right word, but how many times can I say float? Maybe spun – like silk she spun those notes up to us. I’m a fan now.
Elina Garanca: There were questions in some quarters whether Elina would be into this role or not. I felt she definitely was. She was fascinating to watch, how she shifted (as a 17 year old boy/young man) from ardent in the opening of Act 1 to confused, somewhat petulant by the end of that act. Act 2 full of dignity. Act 3 – well! Playing her role as Mariandel well, then that confusion when the Marschallin shows up, and back to ardent again by the end. My cielo kept commenting how very much like a young man she was in how she embodied the role. She was impressed. Her voice was lush, I thought. And so handsome.
Günther Groissböck: It won’t surprise anyone that my primary reaction to Ochs is, “when are you leaving?” Even though his character is a catalyst for immense anguished beauty (of which he is not a part), he refuses to get out of the way (until the end). Especially when the character is played as a buffoon, I am just waiting – get out already! (Which, I think, is part of the point of his character). However, in this production, he feels much more violent than in others I’ve seen. Part of it is production choices but I think also how Groissböck portrayed him, something about his physical embodiment of the role and also how he almost spit the consonants. He and his minions are dressed as military which adds a layer of commentary about the violence of patriarchy (and how the military enforces patriarchy). I still wanted him to leave, but this time more because he was scary, conniving, threatening. The “humor” after he’s stabbed (“it’s just a flesh wound”) in Act 2 I thought was a little over the top considering how up to this point his character was more threatening than clownish, but still. When he has his minions carrying on with guns (for example, defending his “right” to Sophie), and in Act 1, leering as they also pursue Mariandel – well I thought it was an effective move and gave me a lot to think about.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Sigh. I know I haven’t said much about her yet. I feel like I’m holding her close, if I put words to it all then somehow how she is filling me up right now will evaporate. It’s over a week now and as I think about the experience, hearing her, witnessing her — yes, I get tears. Still.
So I am going to give her a post all of her own, with more thoughts about the production itself because for me they are related.
But what you should know is: I cried when the chandeliers rose before the overture. I cried again at the end of Act 1, that longing solo violin as the Marschallin sends the silver Rose to Octavian and walks across the vast room and out the door. I cried during the Trio all the way to end and into the curtain call. All of it, more beautiful than I ever even imagined.
I hollered for the trio of women, Renée in particular of course, during the curtain call – not quite the Xena cry certain quarters had recommended so I’d be heard on the internet broadcast, but again, it was hard enough to stay in my body anyway.
And when it was all done, our hands aching from applause, eyes still rimmed with tears, we made our way, slowly, dazedly, down the elevators, out the front doors, and turned to look back at the lit-up building. It was nearly midnight. We took more pictures, and I held my cielo and cried again, in sheer joy for the whole glorious day.
We did not want to leave.
Alleinig, wer’s erlebt,
der glaubt daran und weiss nicht wie…
(only those who experience it believe it,
and do not know how…)
Stay tuned for Part 2.
Production photos by Ken Howard, via Facebook.