(Photo AP: Act II of Der Rosenkavalier)
The fact that the greatest composer of the twentieth century, Richard Strauss, chose the final trio from Rosenkavalier as the music he wanted played at his funeral -- conducted by the young Georg Solti -- seems to have created some sort of general impression that the entire opera is owed some taxidermist's form of respect -- like a funeral march for fresh ideas that at this point sort of polarized most stage directors in two fields -- the organza /tulle /wig fans and the not-so-avantgarde-anymore directors who choose instead to degrade the story into an impressively vulgar brothel anecdote in the name of, you know, throwing away that tired organza. It's also interesting to realize how a lot of conductors have divided themselves into two factions, too -- the ones who listened to a lot of Kleiber's Rosenkavalier (let's call them Team Watteau) and the ones who endured a lot of Karajan (let's call them Team Rembrandt).
The late Nathaniel Merrill's production of Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier opened last night at the Met (where it had last appeared roughly a decade ago). The Strauss package got unwrapped (although everything is actually wrapped in layers of organza and silk tulle, from the windows to the women) and serves as our hyper-real (Frengo would be proud) billet doux to a generic Maria Theresian Vienna.