Music ReviewsOperaREVIEWSREVIEWS BYTom Williams

Der Rosenkavalier

Der Rosenkavalier

Music by Richard Strauss

Libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal

Conductor Edward Gardner

Director Martina Weber

At the Lyric Opera of Chicago

Long, tedious opera contains terrific performances.



Richard Stauss’s 1911 domestic romantic comedy, Der Rosenkavalier, pays homage to Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, but doesn’t contain the magic of Amadeus’s genius. With lush costumes and sets by Thierry Bosquet, Der Rosenkavalier looks and sounds like a fine grand opera, but I found that the first act labors on and the last act’s ending scene also contained several false endings. For the first time in several seasons, an opera never “grabbed” me.  The subtle music and the soprano-rich singing was low-key for me despite excellent work by mezzo-soprano Sophie Koch as Octavian and soprano Amanda Majeski as The Marschallin.  The aging princess pined for the youthful lad in a trouser role supreme.


The opera deals with young lovers versus older lovers. Characters also include Baron Ochs, bass Matthews Rose, with Herr von Faninal, baritone Martin Gantner, among others in this worthy cast. This romantic comedy has it moments despite the long lingering scenes. I guess I suffer from hyper-expectations about this tribute to Mozart -which I failed to appreciate since the score never reached the grand Mozart level.

Playing to many terrific arias and duets, Der Rosenkavalier, contains lush beauty and glorious singing, yet it played too long for my taste. I can’t remember when an opera didn’t “reach” like this one. But I’m sure most opera aficionados will enjoy and appreciate this grand scale of the production more that I did. This opera is worth experiencing. The ending trio is amazing.


Tom Williams

Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: February 8, 2016

For more info checkout the Der Rosenkavalier page at

At the Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker, Chicago, 312-332-2244, ,  tickets $20-$349, Running Time: 4hr, 5mins; two intermissions, through March 13, 2016