The only reason I went to hear Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier at the Bavarian State Opera was because Felicity Lott and Angelika Kirchschlager were singing. Good thing I didn't go to hear Walter Fink, for he fell ill and his part was sung by Artur Korn. I am not fond of R. Strauss, though I was surprised by his Ariadne. Der Rosenkavalier has some much more modern elements that I did not enjoy, such as grinding noise maker and wind chime sounds. Sometimes the music was high-flown and melodramatic, sometimes simply noise, sometimes charmingly waltzy with a hysterical edge.
The set was the most beautiful I have ever seen. It was as if they had stolen a couple of rooms out of the Wittelbach residences. The Rococo splendor of the first two acts was highly impressive. Act I was in the Feldmarschallin's bedroom, and the walls were covered with painted scenes, the room was all pale green, ivory, and gold, with beautiful carved doors in the center. The floor was covered with a light green carpet, with ivory flowers at the edges. Act II was in a receptional hall within the Faninal residence, and it was light blue, ivory, and gold, with all manner of elaborate cupids and garlands decorating the walls, which also had cabinets filled with porcelain. The center doors were glass, revealing a staircase in the background. The floor was painted to look like a yellowish marble. Act III looked like the set to La Boheme.
The costumes were just as beautiful as the set. The choreography was pretty good, Kirchschlager as a good presence and a clear boyishness perfect for Octavian. Lott moves elegantly as the Feldmarschallin. Korn played the unctous Baron quite well also. The worst choreography was when Octavian brings the rose to Sophie, he enters through the center doors, and she faces away from him toward the audience, face expectant, leaning forward with arms out as if ready to take flight. This was awkward and ugly. She also stamped her feet a lot.
As for the singing, Lott's clear, cold soprano was quite nice with Kirchschlager's warmer, mezzo tones. Bass Korn wasn't bad, but his timing seemed somewhat off. Soprano Heidi Grant Murphy made a good Sophie, her sweet voice sounds young, though almost a bratty whine at times. Her voice was a little quiet, especially in contrast to her maid's. Also, tenor Eduardo Villa was back in an opera playing a singer once again. We last saw him in Die Fledermaus as an opera singer. His voice is exceptionally pretty.
I should mention this production had two small dogs in it, in Act II, handled by one Manolito Mario Franz. They were very well behaved. Bravi!