Opera, as we all know, is not a spectator sport -- certainly not a audio-stream-on-crappy-PC-loudspeakers sport -- but over the weekend Opera Chic checked out, on a Japanese friend's suggestion, Rosenkavalier on Blu-Ray (UK link here).
It's the 2007 Fabio Luisi version, recorded in Japan during a Staatskapelle Dresden tour and frankly, proper Blu Ray on plasma seems to OC to be the best alternative to the real thing -- ie, having been able to travel to Japan with the Staatskapelle, maybe to care for the maestro's cute pug. Luisi -- Opera Chic Conductor of 2008 -- shows the truth in what Opera Chic has been thinking for a while, ie that Italians make the best Strauss conductors (Carlito Kleiber being the exception to the rule), but this is a somewhat controversial point we'll discuss at length some other time: Luisi's Rosenkavalier has the right combination of grace and precision and, as Herr Doktor Strauss himself told young Georg Solti, Rosenkavalier revolves around its text -- the words themselves indicate the tempi and the phrasing. Uwe Eric Lafenberg, the director, for OC's taste could have done more to keep the comedy in check -- Rosenkavalier remains lacerated by an always-present, even under the surface, sense of sadness -- but Anne Schwanewilms (Marschallin -- and by the way Opera Chic does not subscribe to the Schwarzkopf cult), Kurt Rydl (Ochs) and Anke Vondung (Octavian) are an excellent, classy, ready-for-HDTV cast -- under Luisi's baton they make you think you're watching a play, where music becomes word. It's a beautiful alchemy.