Met Opera’s ‘Live in HD’ brings Strauss’s ‘Der Rosenkavalier’ to cinemas

Lise Davidsen as the Marschallin in Strauss’s ‘Der Rosenkavalier’
Photo: Ken Howard / Met Opera

Strauss’s grand Viennese comic opera Der Rosenkavalier comes to cinema screens in the latest Metropolitan Opera Live in HD production, in which audiences worldwide have an opportunity to watch a live transmission from the stage of Lincoln Center in New York. This co-production of the Metropolitan Opera, London’s Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires and Teatro Regio di Torino – which was first presented in 2017 – is directed by Robert Carsen, with conductor Simone Young leading the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, cast and Chorus of the Metropolitan Opera.

Der Rosenkavalier stars soprano Lise Davidsen in her debut as the Marschallin, mezzo-soprano Samantha Hankey in the trouser role of her lover Octavian Count Rofrano, and soprano Erin Morley as Sophie von Faninal the young girl in love with Octavian. Bass Günther Groissböck once again appears as the churlish Baron Ochs, and Brian Mulligan is Sophie’s wealthy father, Herr von Faninal.

Samantha Hankey as Octavian, Lise Davidsen as the Marschallin, and Erin Morley as Sophie in Strauss’s ‘Der Rosenkavalier’ Photo: Ken Howard / Met Opera

Der Rosenkavalier (The Knight of the Rose) is a comic opera in three acts by German composer Richard Strauss, with a German libretto by Austrian dramatist Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Strauss had written his opera Elektra which was based on a play by Hofmannsthal, but Der Rosenkavalier was their first close collaboration. Hofmannsthal took several characters and elements of the plot from French composer Claude Terrasse’s operetta L’Ingénu libertin (1907) and French dramatist Molière’s Monsieur de Pourceaugnac (1669). Strauss set Der Rosenkavalier in 18th century Vienna, and although the waltz was unknown until the early 19th century, he nevertheless worked a number of waltzes into the score, and the Waltz Sequence from Der Rosenkavalier has become well known as a standalone concert piece. The opera, which has become Strauss’s most popular, premiered at the Dresden Royal Opera House on January 26, 1911.

Samantha Hankey as Octavian and Lise Davidsen as the Marschallin in Strauss’s
‘Der Rosenkavalier’ Photo: Ken Howard / Met Opera

Der Rosenkavalier tells of a mature woman, the Marschallin, who has a young lover, Octavian, but realises that, since she is ageing, she might have to give him up to enable him to marry a young girl. Her country cousin, Baron Ochs auf Lerchenau, boasts to the Marschallin about his amorous conquests and his upcoming marriage to Sophie von Faninal, the young daughter of a wealthy man. At the Marschallin’s suggestion, Octavian is selected to be the cavalier who presents Sophie with the traditional silver engagement rose, and the young couple are instantly attracted to each other.

Günther Groissböck as Baron Ochs and Lise Davidsen as the Marschallin in Strauss’s
‘Der Rosenkavalier’ Photo: Ken Howard / Met Opera

Fortunately for them, Ochs blots his copybook by accepting a dinner invitation from ‘Mariandel’ who is actually Octavian in disguise. The Marschallin arrives on the scene and Octavian owns up to the deception, whereupon Ochs flees in disgrace and the young lovers are free to pursue their dreams.

Lise Davidsen as the Marschallin in Strauss’s ‘Der Rosenkavalier’
Photo: Ken Howard / Met Opera

Leading international soprano Lise Davidsen, said by Peter Gelb, General Manager of the Met, to be “In a league of her own”, received wide praise for her appearances at the Met as Eva in Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, the title role in Richard Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos, Chrysothemis in his Elektra, and the title role in Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades. Other highlights of her career include the roles of Sieglinde in Wagner’s Die Walküre at Deutsche Oper Berlin, the title role in Janáček’s Jenufa at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Elisabeth in Wagner’s Tannhäuser at Bayerische Staatsoper, the Opernhaus Zurich, and the Bayreuth Festival, and the title role in Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos at Aix-en-Provence Festival, Wiener Staatsoper and Glyndebourne Festival.

A scene from Act II of Strauss’s ‘Der Rosenkavalier’ with Samantha Hankey as Octavian
Photo: Ken Howard / Met Opera

Mezzo-soprano Samantha Hankey makes her house role debut as Octavian. Praised for her “luscious” voice and “distinctive…vividly dramatic” performances by Opera News, she has made house and role debuts during last season at the Gran Teatre del Liceu Barcelona as Der Komponist in Ariadne auf Naxos, Dorabella in Mozart’s Così fan tutte at San Diego Opera, and Ruggiero in Glyndebourne Festival’s new production of Alcina. She made her role debut as Prince Charmant in Massenet’s Cendrillon at the Metropolitan Opera, and her house debut in the same role at the Opéra de Paris, before returning to Munich’s Bayerische Staatsoper as Cherubino in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro.

Erin Morley as Sophie and Samantha Hankey as Octavian in Strauss’s ‘Der Rosenkavalier’ Photo: Ken Howard / Met Opera

Coloratura soprano Erin Morley reprises her portrayal of Sophie in the Met’s 2017 production of Der Rosenkavalier. Her appearance as Morgana in Handel’s Alcina at Auditorio Nacional in Madrid was described by Scherzo as “dazzling”, and she has appeared in highly acclaimed performances on some of the world’s greatest opera stages such as Wiener Staatsoper, Bayerische Staatsoper, Opéra National de Paris, Glyndebourne Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Los Angeles Opera and the Metropolitan Opera, where she has now sung more than 100 performances and has been featured in five “Live in HD” broadcasts.

Günther Groissböck as Baron Ochs and Samantha Hankey as Octavian in Strauss’s
‘Der Rosenkavalier’ Photo: Ken Howard / Met Opera

Bass Günther Groissböck again takes the role of Baron Ochs, for which he won acclaim at the premiere of the production in 2017 and also on its first revival during the 2019–20 season. He is a regular guest at opera houses such as the Met, La Scala Milan, Opéra National de Paris, Bavarian State Opera Munich, Vienna State Opera, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden and the Bayreuth Festival. Roles include Gurnemanz in Wagner’s Parsifal, the title role in Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, Sarastro in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Fasolt in Wagner’s Das Rheingold, Gremin in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin and the title role in Handel’s Oreste.

René Barbera as the Italian Singer in Strauss’s ‘Der Rosenkavalier’
Photo: Ken Howard / Met Opera

Also in the cast are tenor René Barbera as the Italian Singer, mezzo-soprano Katharine Goeldner as Annina, tenor Thomas Ebenstein as Valzacchi, and baritone Brian Mulligan as Faninal.

Robert Carsen’s elegant production has the action set in Vienna in 1911, the last years of the Habsburg Empire and the year in which it was premiered. The creative team also includes costume designer Brigette Reiffenstuel, set designer Paul Steinberg, lighting designers Carsen and Peter Van Praet, and choreographer Philippe Giraudeau. Gary Halvorson directs the Live in HD presentation for cinemas, and the broadcast is hosted by soprano Deborah Voigt.

Simone Young leads this performance of Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier on April 15th at 12h00 ET, which will be transmitted live to movie theaters around the globe as part of the Met’s Live in HD series. Further information on Der Rosenkavalier can be found on the Metropolitan Opera website. To find your nearest cinema visit this page of the Metropolitan Opera website.

For select audiences who do not live near a participating cinema, Der Rosenkavalier will also be available on the The Met: Live at Home platform, which offers a livestream or on-demand viewing for seven days following the performance. Details are available on the Metropolitan Opera website.

Information sourced from:

Metropolitan Opera program notes

Lise Davidsen

Samantha Hankey

Erin Morley

Günther Groissböck

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