White Shirt Monday: Better Than Chocolate


[“Das Frühstück it’s!” – Brigitte Hahn (Marschallin) and Liliana Nikiteanu (Octavian) sharing breakfast chocolate and matching outfits in Konwitschny’s staging of the “Rosenkavalier”. – Hamburg 2002]

Fine, so it is actually White Corsage Monday. Though for category’s sake, there IS a white shirt, though it’s negligently tossed across the left corner of the sofa in the back.

Konwitschny’s interpretation of Strauss’ “Rosenkavalier” was much debated, but a very interesting reading, with some really powerful images (I am still looking for an image of the third act trio to share – never was nitrogen put to visually more stunning use). One of his principal ideas was to “make stop with the pretense”: in his reading, Octavian is a woman and much of the Marschallin’s struggles are about being unable to come out of the closet. She commits suicide at the end of Act 1, which gave her monologue a rawness and vulnerability that I’ve hardly ever seen in other productions.

I wouldn’t call it it my favorite staging, but definitely one of my favorites: it is among the most innovative, thought-provoking and fearless productions of the “Rosenkavalier” I have had the pleasure to see (unfortunately, it was not taped for video or DVD release, much like most of Konwitschny’s works for Hamburg).

5 thoughts on “White Shirt Monday: Better Than Chocolate”

  1. um, WOW. I would’ve loved to see this, since it’s pretty much how i imagine it in my head (don’t we all)…except for the Marschallin suicide part. I assume she returns as a ghost, then, in the third act? Interesting…


    1. yes, she showed up again as a ghost. I liked the idea – it took away from the Hofmannsthal quote that the Marschallin is about 32 and that Octavian is neither the first nor the last of her lovers and focused on the seriousness of being left, and feeling oneself age.

      Last night, I saw another fascination interpretation by Tobias Kratzer (the Grease one – more images after the holidays; at the moment, I’m traveling and without a scanner): the whole opening sequence as a self-monologue of the Marschallin, with Octavian as a mirror image of herself. Also, three separate stories, almost – Act I ends with the start of WW1 and Octavian dying in it (she rose gets sent back to the Marschallin).
      The whole concept was about consumerism, and how the opera was already composed to be an economically sound hit – really well done. The last act, a contemporary warehouse and Octavian only appears after the Marschallin does; the whole Mariandl sequence is a meeting between Ochs and a random prostitute, highlighting the economization and impossibility of love.

      A very original, thought-provoking evening that opened up new perspectives (on the shallow side, Octavian looked damn hot in his white shirts and uniform 😉 ).


    1. I think they shredded it – like most of Konwitschny’s Hamburg stuff, it got neither taped not restaged elsewhere (Lohengrin being the notable exception).


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