The Met “Rosenkavalier” (2017) Liveblogging Thread

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Welcome to the White Shirt live comment thread for Richard Strauss’ “Der Rosenkavalier” from New York/Met (2017), staged by Robert Carsen and with Sebastian Weigele conducting the Met Orchestra.

Cast List:

Octavian – Elīna Garanča
Princess von Werdenberg – Renée Fleming
Baron Ochs – Günther Groissböck
Sophie – Erin Morley
Faninal – Markus Brück
Annina – Helene Schneiderman
Valzacchi – Alan Oke
Italian Singer – Matthew Polenzani
Marianne – Susan Neves
Mahomet – Billy Conahan
Princess’ Major-domo – Scott Scully
Lackey – Marco Jordão
Lackey – Ross Benoliel
Lackey – Daniel Clark Smith
Lackey – Edward Hanlon
Orphan – Maria D’Amato
Orphan – Christina Thomson Anderson
Orphan – Rosalie Sullivan
Milliner – Anne Nonnemacher
Animal Vendor – Dustin Lucas
Hairdresser – Frank Colardo
Notary – James Courtney
Leopold – Patrick Stoffer
Faninal’s Major-domo – Mark Schowalter
Innkeeper – Tony Stevenson
Waiter – Brian Frutiger
Waiter – Bradley Garvin
Waiter – Brian Kontes
Waiter – Christopher Job
Police Commissioner – Scott Conner
Widow – Sidney Fortner
Doctor – Frank Colardo

Libretto: German (html), English (pdf) – singing version, not a verbatim translation.

760 thoughts on “The Met “Rosenkavalier” (2017) Liveblogging Thread”

    1. other old acquaintances tonight: Annina (Schneidermann, the Stuttgart Alcina BRadamante) and Markus Brück (Nardo in the Dörrie Giardiniera from Salzburg)

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        1. Schneiderman’s Bradamante was one of the conceptually most interesting: not that big on the heartbreak, but instead so big on conformity that it made her ruthless.

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      1. (3x , full reports on my blog back in 2013, hands details, walks, eyes, you name it! was the time i nearly fell out of the royal box trying to “touch” VK’s hair and get better glimpse of her cuddling with N.Stemme in the corner *just* below me!)

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  1. okay, the announcing with all the Wagner… no way this would fly in any German-speaking country safe perhaps Austria, but Austria would play strauss instead.

    (Wait, are they actually putting titles over the overture. No, they do the overture twice. – Hey, I thought it would start at Minute 10!)

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  2. Why is Garanca retiring this, she is vocally FABULOUS, easily ringing out over everything. Don’t think she has ever been a better fit for this.

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      1. In a post of mine about seeing this live in April, I commented that Elina had learned at thing or two from Barbara Bonney. What I meant was, from this 😉 :

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      1. I get that the physicality – and she does that really well here – may be hard to uphold when your back has turned 40, but vocally, she would have various years at the top here still.

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        1. Also, Morley is apparently 37, so now I have to let this percolate a bit from the perspective of “What if I had stuck with opera after college?” Because that’s only a few years away for me. Thoughts for another day.

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  3. what stick most until now is the immediate insecurity and vulnerability Fleming put to the Marschallin’s first reaction to Octavian – it is already clear here how the first act will have to end.

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    1. That’s the core of the poetic tragedy of the Marschallin. She can try to delay it, but she always knows – consciously or not – how it will have to end. Painful. Beautiful and painful.

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      1. and it looks here as if she is blocking herself – she could go for it, put herself at risk, and he would stay. For a good while. But she doesn’t give him that chance – need for control?

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        1. good question! control or perhaps at least trying to have some agency? or perhaps (given her growing weariness of *all this* as the act progresses, just choosing not to delay the inevitable (you can’t actually stop the clocks after all…)

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          1. But you can! In the moment! And without vulnerability, no true communication!
            (But patriarchy may have burned her too much and Octavian is still a man)

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          2. all of that may well be at play here! Octavian is still a man, she keeps begging him not to be like all men (or at least making it clear he has to choose what kind to be)…given how he does seem to be pushy (though much more tender in this production, the way, for example, he tries to get in onto/into the bed when she clearly does not want to), perhaps she’s not convinced at that point he won’t be. but then (at least here) in act 3 she sees what he is trying to become, and that’s part of her anguish there. Wondering out loud here…

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          3. the moment in Act 1 with the bed: yes, sharply noted – but also understandable, since he is still in the same mindset as he woke up, and she is miles away and he isn’t privy to it.
            I stick with “she doesn’t give him as much of a chance to be a different man in Act I as she could here”. 😉

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          4. I think her station as well as her age play a certain role here. Her station has always given her the command of the situation, she is the princess after all.
            and yet at the same time a woman who is in love with a much younger man and she knows from experience what might happen – so to keep him at arms length distance might give her the feeling of beingable to keep pain at that distance to.
            in the end it is this attitude which makes a so glorious, not just generosity (‘Marie There’s, wie gut sie ist’) but incredible poise

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    1. oh, very good. also the measuring up to established hegemonic masculinity?

      Nice detail on Garanca’s part ot make Octavian both defiant and a little afraid of his own courage here.

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    1. and with a rose!
      (wait, did that come in with breakfast? Did Octavian climb her balcony last night with that rose between his teeth? —typical Carsen though, from the living rose to the silver one…)

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      1. in Octavian’s dress-up, or in the Marschallin being pretty at ease about her husband possibly barging in? Both commonplace.

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    1. I am not sure whether HvH made that up, but there are lots of words in the libretto that I thought he had made up and I realized now that the Viennese actually still use them.

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    1. fabulous take.
      Also, Ochs, get off that bed and get your hand of that rose.
      It really only works when he is halfway attractive and and threatening. If he is just a buffoon, there is no danger to it.

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    1. and very agile with the jump across the bed. The colleague who seems nice enough and fun and only at the Dpt. party after the second beer your realize what a sexist entitled jerk he is?

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  4. Okay, Garanca – that bit with the corsage and then Fleming’s smirk at seeing it is a great detail on both parts. (also stealing the stockings. Very Cherubino. But the corsage was the better moment)

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    1. in his world, he probably gets away with it most of the time.

      Sidenote: Fleming’s German is really good.

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    2. and hey, he manages the “Heu” in the prescribed piano.

      And then the Marschallin’s frown, not funny for her any longer.

      (hey, ð! They can stay, Octavian!)

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    3. it is like class privilege protects her up to a point, but then it’s gender discrimination and Octavian can laugh still, but she cannot.

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        1. Yes! I get the impression that he would be far better to her if only she would let him. He cares, she guards herself, and that way turns him a bit into the kind of man she resents.

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          1. oh, great observation. then you see at the end, too, he care, I felt that in this production/Garanca’s acting of it — he really does not want to hurt her, I think that’s part of his confusion.

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          2. Also the easy acceptance of “she broke up with me and is over me”, and being genuinely confused by her harsher remarks then: “but… You said you didn’t want me any longer?”

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  5. interesting that Carsen chose to stage the three orphans as young men, in Hofmannsthal, they are women (check the Roller costumes for the world premiere) – which makes this whole thing about “dying on the field of honor” an Ochs-style joke that the production skips here.

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    1. nice lower range there in the final exchange with Ochs, Fleming!

      (okay, but this being her last onstage Time Monologue is…. *chills*)

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      1. really, for this derniere, there should have been plot changes. Octavian stay with the Marschallin, who shoots Ochs, and Sophie meets a Octavian’s lovely older sister. Annina sets up their dates. The end.

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  6. I think of these two as the Max & Elsa of the stage version of “The Sound of Music” – they scheme and add colorful energy, but overall, their sideshow is pretty unnecessary to the overall plot.

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  7. If we had any doubts as to this being a Met show: it has the biggest bestest did I mention biggest rose that is actually three roses in one. (okay, to be fair, Carsen designed that for ROH and it fits his Faninal take)

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    1. very good framing, he is almost a side character here. (Patriarchy is watching, as you said. Everywhere!)

      (OMG the bit with her watching the veins on the back of her hands – spot on)

    1. You know, I hadn’t read the libretto prior to this performance, so I had been totally unaware of her religious background and how important it is to her character. It adds a lovely layer of depth.

      I wish I’d encountered this when I was in school and first exposed to opera, it would have resonated strongly. (Much more religious back then.)

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  8. And he is so sweet and so happy with the roses and she just walls him out… *sniffles*
    but when Octavian walks in here, that’s a scene I cannot watch rationally. o much of my own history tied up in listening to this.

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  9. how she yells the “gescheit” at him, she is already miles away from him. And he is such an open book and puppy eyes and siiigh. And he genuinely cannot get what she is getting at (but she doesn’t try to explain it here, either).

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      1. oh, that is fine (wait, there are more?)
        towanda alerted me recently that AO3 houses a series of short Marschallin/Contessa vignettes, which should get points for sheer stance.

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  10. die Zeit, die ist ein sonderbar Ding…see how she sings it, the diction and the anguish on her face, this isn’t just a philosophical musing, this is coming from a real place of pain in her.

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  11. okay, but have Octavian walk away in time with the clock chimes? That’s cold, Carsen. I mean, a great call, but also gutting.

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  12. but this Octavian is really overall more on the kind and soft side. Most I’ve seen where much more “Men” in the making.

    Also an psychologically good choice to have her yell at him and push him away so that he will leave because she apparently cannot manage to tell him to do so. Ncie details of her wavering, there.

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    1. yes because if your lover of last night turns maternal on your seemingly out of nowhere, what are you going to do?
      He has no experience, no framework, so he’ll think it is a rejection of him. He’s not at “It’s not me, it’s you” yet. That takes years.

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    1. and the bit with his hat. *sniffles* and then setting it away decisively. we have other problems. Also, one of very few productions that listens to the libretto line of her going to CHURCH now.

      DEAR GOD his roses. Which we can assume she will leave at the Werdenberg family crypt. (the model for which, if you’d like to see it, is at Michaelerkirche in Vienna)

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    1. am fine, and actually surprised how okay I am with Garanca after this interview, Dehggi be my witness.
      Act to set to 10:50 for the half hour.

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      1. okay, the “Blunt Phallic Reference” has just been won uncontested.

        (also, that Brück cannot be the one I remember from Salzburg. No way. I must have mixed things up. – Oh, the Leitzmetzerin is giving me slight Barcellona vibes)

    1. I actually do. Maybe a little over the top but the point is that Faninal is an arms-dealer, that’s how he makes his money. That point is often so invisible in traditional productions. So having then Ochs clearly military ups the violence of the patriarchy and how patriarchy is backed by militarism.

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      1. (jeah, but fire arms and cannons are quite different i think? it would be more effective for me if he has a big scupture full of guns piling on top of each other?)

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      1. Of definitely. Rows of fresh nubile meat getting paraded around every year in white dresses to waltz sounds?

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    1. In her interview later, she talks specifically about loving the floating high notes, so I’m not surprised. Also, I remain envious and so happy that you got to see this in person!!!

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  13. Finally made it home after a traffic odyssey/nightmare and now the wee one is refusing to take his nap. Hopefully I should be joining you soon – where are you at?

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      1. Thanks so much!! Kiddo is in bed and I am sitting on the couch with a chocolate bar and ready to party. Ochs us dancing and being creepy. Am I at the right place?

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  14. I’m curious about the dancers, and how everyone is all dressed alike. Switch the sword and rose bush to another pair, and it wouldn’t make a difference…something about the normalization of heteropatriarchy?…like clockwork…

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          1. I would say he is, between the dancing and the white dresses. Not sure how to explain the Wiener Opernball – it’s… quite something.

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          2. keep stiff drink handy. surely there are YT vids of the annual debutante quarille (Many of which are paid professionals to uphold the dancing level, but hey… appearances!)

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          3. as severus snape would say: Ob…

            …viously. 😉

            (but what a dig that Carsen’s making then, no? “y’all with your imitating-strauss-roses missing the entire anti-all-this point…”)

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          4. But will they get it? Most will happiliy sigh and say, oh, just like Opernball – with my rants about ball traditions, I am pretty alone over here.

            >

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    1. After THAT first act, with the singers with the experience and the chemistry (yes, I mentioned Garanca and chemistry in the same sentence. Sue me. I’d take this Octavian over her Dalila any day, not because it’s a trouser role, but because there is much more ease to it), any second act would all a little short.

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      1. it’s funny you say that, because I so can’t get over her performance here. But for the Met 50th gala she sings Dalila! I watched the video and was like…um, please bring back Octavian!!!

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        1. Yes, I watched that one recently – and I know it is a new role for her, she has yet tos g it on stage, and in true Garanca fashion, she will not give anything in stage impulses she hasn’t 100% mastered beforehand – but still, this is night and day. I don’t mean trouser role or not (but you all know that my stance in that is Bartoli/DiDonato), but I never associate her stage work with flow and ease and things happening in the Moment, but last night was exactly that, to a degree I had not previously seen on her. I don’t mean to say she is a bad actress instances – I just find her (thorough, diligent) approach to be studied and employed, not to happen, usually, in the moment. There was a bit that struck me in the intermission interview yesterday, where she seemed so genuinely at ease and talked about reacting off the atmosphere, and when she mentioned her preparation it was having studied young men, asked young men. Whereas many of the other artists we discuss here often also talk about developing stage physicality from their own patterns.

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          1. Actually I saw an interview with her some time ago where she was getting ready for the role in NY and said just that, that she would study men and boys to become authentic; but in total I find her too ‘kühl’ if not ‘unterkühlt’, a bit too remote

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          2. interesting question on authenticity: is it more authentic if you study young men and emulate them, or is it more authentic if you develop patterns starting with your own motion repertory and arrive at a mix? (she might, the interview only had the one remark)

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    1. Sophie listens to the gossip. and Marianne probably has ALL the rags on subscription? And perhaps it is a name he got before the Marschallin used it?

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      1. maybe but i just have this feeling like she (the Marschallin) wouldn’t use it if it were common? I have nothing to base that on really. It’s always a jarring moment to me when in the first act it seems like such an intimate thing just between the Marschallin and Octavian, and then in act 2 we find out it’s not. Something i think about.

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        1. Yes, I have never bin able to solve that, either. Perhaps the more intimate thing is to call him Mein Bub?

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        2. …perhaps Der Mohamed is a gossip and between waking up with the Marschalling and delivering the rose the grapevine has done its work, OR Octavian has a history of pining after older women enough to have gained a nickname (which the Marschallin might use because she would then be the only one with a right to it?) I have been thinking about this today!

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          1. I’m still thinking about this too, and still wondering! I mean such a little detail but it niggles at me. I even went back to the libretto to see if she uses it more in the beginning or end of Act 1 but it’s about the same. Maybe it’s so much listening to Fleming who seems to infuse it with such much meaning (which means maybe it’s just I don’t want anybody else to “say” but her 😉 ).

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      1. In extreme patriarchal society, women would absolutely NOT be allowed near the guns, and Sophie isn’t really the damsel-saving-herself type that we see more of now. Not that I wouldn’t love an AU fic of that. 😉

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        1. yo, towanda, did ou hear that fic prompt?

          And good point on patriarchy, also with how Faninal treats his daughter like a commodity.

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  15. And now, perhaps, with Ochs taking him into his confidence, Octavian starts to understand what kind of man he doesn’t want to be. Apart from the non-consensual philandering, which Octavian already witnessed first-hand, he sees the dangerous entitlement, the threat.

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    1. (i’m unsure… i’d interpret more just the “rescue the young girl in distress” mentality , being young and idealistic, but also in the system, so i don’t see him drawing “lesson” really )

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    1. Oh, totally! I actually have a hard time watching this. It’s this pretty artifice of politeness and acceptability on top of a deep well of rape culture. The complicity of the audience makes it even more menacing.

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  16. and this is the moment when i realized this damn waltz is a gross celebration of rape culture.

    (and so what does it mean that it’s the most hummable thing from this opera? Hmmm)

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  17. I appreciate how condemning of patriarchy and chauvinism this opera is, especially given the time and source. Ochs is never painted as the good guy or forgiven by the narrative. (Again, my exposure to performances of this is pretty slim, so it may be that other stagings have forgiven him more.)

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    1. “Ochs is never painted as the good guy or forgiven by the narrative.” — this is such a great point. He’s so often portrayed us just a buffoon, this is much more dangerous.

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    2. or simply laughed him off as the old guy who doesn’t get the girl because he cannot successfully perform the appropriate or class, but his male entitlement and complicitness is never called out (He admits to raping his female servants while on the Marschallin’s couch in Act 1)

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      1. The fact that he’s menacing instead of buffoonish, and that the production takes the undertones of sexual violence seriously is very effective. Ochs size and presence, especially in comparison to Octavian is just this looming threat.

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        1. perhaps some audience members felt their feathers ruffled there? Not going to the opera to think about how rape culture still permeates society?

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          1. oh i am sure definitely so!

            as we were walking out i overheard an alte Frau say “there are some things that should just be kept traditional.” and when you think of the previous production that was around over 40 years, it definitely did not open up these points (they are there in the libretto and music, but if you don’t really know what you are hearing, you miss it. there is no missing it here.)

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          2. again: thank you, Carsen.
            (and I get that it is unperturbing for European stages who live between Bieito and Herheim, but perhaps that third act seemed wild to more conservative Met audiences?)

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  18. ochs enters here all “approving” of Octavian, like they’re all the same (being “like all men”), and I wonder how Octavian feels about that (I’ve never wondered about that until Garanca’s performance)

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    1. Isn’t there a layer of “he’s just like my bastard son,” too? They have that son following him around in Act 3 and basically being super gross, too, right?

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      1. because of the brothel? What to people think a Beisl backroom was for?!

        (there is actually a Beisl at Naschmarkt that is called “Sopherl”… also kind of smarmy)

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        1. yeah but like i wrote in one of my posts, so often (traditionally) staged as just a dusty back room somewhere, doesn’t at all feel seedy or risque. Run-down is not the same as brothel. 🙂

          and apparently not everyone wants to see an actual brothel (i heard a couple of comments like this as we were making our way out)

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          1. yes, true in that it is not institutionalized prostitution (which was forbidden under the law), but even in Strauss’ own day, the whole “Süßes Mädel” iconography was about prostitution without calling it that. And Empress Maria-Theresia acutally had a special task force for enforcing morals and went after the back-rooms, so it would count as seedy in a way?

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          2. (it comes down to sex workers without protections de to being pushed into illegality even while the system relies on them)

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    1. I don’t get it, either. It is a good reading, solidly crafted, well-attuned to even minute musical details, and not in any way too modern or off-path.

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    1. throwing the bridal dress is a nice detail.

      Also the way she suddenly stops being defiant when he threatens her with convent life (never seen it this way). Somebody would like to live…?

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    1. Yeah, the ownership language with marriage has always been gross. He’s just as bad as Ochs, just along a different angle.

      Can’t wait to dive into more of the class analysis here, because that definitely informs his desperation, even though it doesn’t forgive it.

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      1. Ochs is preoccupied too with class in that he has it (high aristocracy), but he is near broke and needs Faninal’s money – which he admits to the Marschallin, who is surpassing him in class (and money)

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  19. So, I may have to hand back my white shirt button for leaving now, but it’s an important day tomorrow 🙂 Have fun everyone and I’ll continue and reading your comments next week!

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      1. which is to say, i found myself humming it several times the week after seeing the HD, and then said to myself, wtf towanda, why are you humming this? he’s awful and the context of him seeing this is awful. that’s literally what made me think about this.

        Rosenkavalier “suites” always include this waltz, of course.

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      1. It’s just so… voluptuous. But it would be difficult to dance, with all those tempo changes and “twitches”.

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