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(Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier). Sop. (often sung by mez.). Travesti role. The 17‐year‐old Count Rofrano, latest lover of Marie Therese, a 32‐year‐old Princess (wife of the field marshal—Feldmarschal—thus she is called the (Feld)Marschallin) who calls him by his pet‐name, Quinquin. When the opera opens, they have clearly been making love. Their breakfast is interrupted by the arrival of her cousin, Baron Ochs, who consults her about whom he should use to present the traditional silver rose to his new fiancée, Sophie von Faninal. Octavian, unable to leave, disguises himself as a chambermaid, ‘Mariandel’, with whom Ochs is soon flirting (as Octavian is a travesti role, this gives rise to a situation in which a female singer impersonates a man who then impersonates a woman). The Marschallin recommends Octavian as the Knight of the Rose (the Rosenkavalier of the title). After the Baron leaves, Octavian finds his lover in melancholy mood—she knows that, sooner or later, he will leave her for a younger woman. This comes about sooner than she has anticipated, for as Octavian presents the silver rose to Sophie, they fall in love at once and he becomes embroiled in a fight with Ochs, whose marriage to Sophie Octavian is now determined to prevent. In his disguise as ‘Mariandel’, Octavian has an assignation with Ochs at a rather seedy local inn, where ‘she’ has to resist the Baron's overtures and his efforts to get her drunk—‘she’ has already noted the conveniently placed bed in an alcove. Octavian has hired Valzacchi and Annina, intriguers, who arrange for people to be hidden around the inn to frighten Ochs throughout their meeting, until he becomes very confused about the situation and even the police become involved. It finally needs both Sophie and the Marschallin to arrive at the inn to sort things out, and for Ochs to realize that he has been fooled by them all. Octavian is left in the room with Sophie, whom he loves, and the Marschallin, his so recent lover, and stands between the two of them, not sure which way to move next. The Marschallin acknowledges that she has lost him to the younger girl, and he tries to explain to her how he feels about her, despite his love for Sophie. With great dignity, she releases him from their relationship and leaves. He and Sophie vow their love for each other. Aria: Nein, nein, nein, nein! I trink' kein Wein (‘No, no, no, no! Oi'll not drink no wine’); duet (with the Marschallin): Heut' oder Morgen…(‘Today or tomorrow’); duet (with Sophie): Mir ist die Ehre widerfahren…(‘To me has been given the honour’—the Presentation of the Rose); trio (with Sophie and the Marschallin): Marie Theres'!…Hab' mir's gelobt (‘Marie Therese!’…‘I vowed to myself’); duet (with Sophie): Spür' nur dich… Ist ein Traum (‘I hold only you’…‘It is a dream’). Created (1911) by Eva von der Osten. Like the Marschallin and Sophie, this has been a favourite role for Strauss sopranos from the first performance to the present day. Many an Octavian has gone on to become a famous Marschallin, including Lotte Lehmann, Germaine Lubin, Tiana Lemnitz, Sena Jurinac, Christa Ludwig, and Felicity Lott. Other notable singers of the role include Lucrezia Bori, Vera Schwarz, Conchita Supervia, Margit Angerer, Eva Hadrabova, Jarmila Navotna, Janet Baker, Brigitte Fassbaender, Ann Murray, Susan Graham, and Angelika Kirchschlager.


Subjects: Opera.

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