About this Recording
8.110277-79 - STRAUSS, R.: Rosenkavalier (Der) (Stevens, Steber / Metropolitan Opera / Reiner) (1949)
English 

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
Der Rosenkavalier

 

Richard Strauss was the foremost German operatic composer after Wagner and one of the most significant in this genre during the first two decades of the twentieth century. His operas Salome (1905) and Elektra (1909) initially shocked conservative opera audiences with their supposedly obscene treatment of biblical and classical subjects. His next opera Der Rosenkavalier, to a libretto by Hugo von Hoffmansthal (their first collaboration), was a marked change in both character and musical language. It was almost as if Strauss, now aged 47, had turned away from the raw intensity and dramatic fervour of the two earlier operas to a more conservative look back to the end of the eighteenth century with a scenario set at the time of the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria.

The new opera was a triumph at its Dresden première on 26 January 1911 and moved into the repertoire of the world’s principal operas where it is has remained. Within the first year Der Rosenkavalier was given in Berlin, Vienna and Milan and two years later London and New York. Strauss employs a huge orchestra of 112 instruments, including nineteen of them for an on-stage ensemble in the third act, but the opera exemplifies the composer’s desire to write a ‘Mozart’ opera in which the blending of innocent youthful lovers is contrasted with high and low aspects of Viennese life.

Interestingly, Strauss composed the three principal rôles for three sopranos and bass. (The rôle of Octavian can be and is now regularly sung by a mezzo-soprano.) The tenor voice is given slight attention excepting the small part of the Italian Tenor in Act One. The rôle of the Feldmarschallin is one of the most challenging interpretatively in the German repertoire. Furthermore, Strauss stated the woman was only 35 years old. Those of the young lovers Octavian and Sophie are in their late teens and that of the Marschallin’s country-bred cousin Ochs, still a man in his lusty prime. Critics of the opera at the time of its première considered the story-line was immoral: this is only in its suggestiveness, no more.

In May 1935 the newly appointed General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, Herbert Witherspoon, died of a heart attack in the theatre: his assistant Edward Johnson immediately took over. The former Canadian tenor would see the shift away from the established European performers towards the ever-increasing introduction of home-bred American singers, a fact accelerated in part by the entry of the United States into the Second World War in December 1941. By the time of Johnson’s last season in 1949-50 this change was now an accepted fact. The General Manager’s last season opened with a performance of Der Rosenkavalier on 21st November 1949, a performance televised by the ABC. It is the sound track of that performance which forms the basis of this distinguished recording.

Overseeing the musical performance was the Hungarian-born conductor Fritz Reiner (1888-1963) who, after studying in his birthplace Budapest, spent the years 1914-24 working in Dresden. Here he got to know and observe Strauss at work before himself conducting his works. Moving to the United States to become conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra from 1922 until 1931, Reiner also taught conducting at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. The conductor returned to opera during the 1930s with engagements in Philadelphia, London and San Francisco between 1932 and 1938 as well as guest conducting in the concert hall. A spell as music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (1938-48) was followed by his memorable Met début directing Salome in February 1949. Reiner would continue to conduct primarily the Mozart-Strauss repertory in this house for the next five seasons in a total of 145 performances, although he would also take charge of Carmen (a work later recorded), Falstaff and the United States première of Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress. The final decade of Reiner’s career was spent with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra whose playing he raised to the highest international standard, exemplified by a series of recordings, including definitive readings of the principal orchestral works of Richard Strauss, together with scenes from Elektra and Salome. Fritz Reiner was a strict disciplinarian with a miniscule beat, a musician whose mastery of orchestral balance and excellent sense of line and architecture made him a remarkable conductor.

Virginia-born soprano Eleanor Steber (1914-1990) made her formal début as Senta in Der fliegende Holländer in Boston at the age of twenty. After success in the Metropolitan Opera Auditions of the Air, she made her first appearance at the opera house as Sophie in December 1940. Renowned as an outstanding Mozartian by her singing of all principal soprano rôles, Steber also appeared in the title rôle of Arabella and Marie in Wozzeck in the Met’s first productions in addition to the memorable creation of the title rôle of Samuel Barber’s Vanessa. Her European appearances were confined to Edinburgh (1947 with the Glyndebourne Company), Bayreuth (1953), Florence (1954) and Salzburg (1958). Steber, who remained with the Met until 1963, was a much admired performer whose spontaneity, energy and versatility went hand in hand with a well-schooled and attractive voice. In later years she appeared in musicals. She recorded extensively, primarily for RCA Victor and Columbia.

Mezzo-soprano Risë Stevens was born in 1913 in New York City, where she later studied, making her début in The Bartered Bride in 1931. After further studies she sang in Prague in 1936 and later Vienna, Cairo and Buenos Aires. Her first appearance with the Met was on tour in November 1938 as Octavian but she returned to Europe to sing Dorabella and Cherubino at the 1939 Glyndebourne Festival. Restricted to America during the war years Stevens consolidated her career at the Met in addition to opera performances in Chicago and San Francisco. She returned to Europe with appearances in Paris (1949), Milan (1954) and Glyndebourne (1955), at the last of these singing and later recording Cherubino. A gifted and attractive performer she continued to appear at the Met until 1961 singing in almost four hundred performances, including Carmen on 75 occasions. Her Hollywood career included The Chocolate Soldier and Going my Way. She also sang in a revival of The King and I at the Lincoln Center in 1964. After her retirement from singing Risë Stevens became involved in the management side at the Met in addition to being appointed President of the Mannes College of Music. She recorded extensively, primarily for Columbia and RCA Victor.

This performance of Der Rosenkavalier in November 1949 marked the Met début of the German soprano Erna Berger (1900-1990). Born in Dresden where she also studied before making her début at the Staatsoper as the First Boy in Die Zauberflöte in 1925. Although her career was mainly spent in Germany, principally in Berlin but also Bayreuth (1929-33), Berger also sang at Salzburg: her interpretation of Zerlina in both 1953 and 1954 are preserved on disc. Her appearances at Covent Garden in 1934-35, 1938 and 1949 were as Marcelline, Sophie, Gilda and the Queen of the Night, a rôle which she also memorably recorded with Beecham in Berlin during 1937-38. After her Met début she also sang Gilda (later recorded on Naxos 8.110148-9) and the Queen of the Night in the ensuing two seasons. Her career continued until 1955 when she moved over to teaching singing exclusively. Her voice retained its youthful freshness and girlish quality throughout her career. She recorded extensively for Polydor, EMI and RCA Victor.

The Viennese-born, later naturalised, American Emanuel List (1886-1967) was originally a member of a vocal quartet which appeared in vaudeville in America and Europe before studying singing seriously in New York. His operatic début took place in Vienna in 1922. His subsequent European career encompassed Berlin (1925-1933), London (1925 and 1934-36), Salzburg (1931-35), and Bayreuth (1933) before he moved to America. Following his Met début in December 1933, List continued to appear in that house, giving over three hundred performances in seventeen rôles until 1950. His other American engagements included San Francisco, Chicago and Buenos Aires in the years 1935-37. His rich resonant voice was well suited to all the main Wagnerian bass rôles in addition to other German operas including Baron Ochs for which he was much admired. He also sings Hunding in Act One of Die Walküre with Lehmann and Melchior (Naxos 8.110250-51).

The rôle of the Italian Tenor is sung by Giuseppe di Stefano (b. 1921) whose voice is the exact type with the requisite fervour of delivery Strauss had in mind when composing the short rôle. The singer had made his Met début as the Duke in Rigoletto in February 1948 and would continue there regularly until 1952. His career took him to all the principal opera houses world-wide and his many recordings, often with Maria Callas, continue to enjoy much popularity.

Malcolm Walker

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Synopsis

CD 1

Act 1

[1] The Introduction sets the scene, as the curtain rises on the bedroom of the Princess, the Feldmarschallin, wife of the Field Marshal. There is a four-poster bed and next to it a Chinese screen, with some clothes lying behind it. The room contains a little table and some chairs, and there is a sofa with a sword in its sheath lying on it. Central folding doors lead to the antechamber and there is also a small door in the wall. The furnishings include armchairs and a dressing-table. The bed-curtains are half drawn and morning sunlight illuminates the room. The window is half open and the singing of birds can be heard from the garden.

[2] The Princess is reclining on the bed and the young nobleman Octavian is kneeling on a footstool, half embracing her. He praises her beauty, which none but he knows, and he goes on to muse on his desire for her, his thirst and burning, his very being lost in her. He wishes that there were no day and draws the curtains to.

[3] They talk of their love. The distant tinkling of a bell is heard, as servants approach. The small door opens and a little Black Boy, dressed in yellow and hung with silver bells, comes in, carrying chocolate on a silver salver. The Marschallin tells Octavian to hide and he takes his sword and hides behind the screen, as the boy sets the salver down and with a little bow takes his leave. She laughs at her young lover for his carelessness in leaving his sword lying on the sofa, rising now from her bed. They sit down together and Octavian rests his head in her lap, while she strokes his hair.

[4] They exchange endearments and Octavian revels in his good luck to be where he is, while the Field Marshal is away hunting in the Croatian forest. The Marschallin tells Octavian of her dream of her husband’s return and her fears that he might find them together. Now she really hears what she thinks is his return. The sound they can hear must be her husband, returned.

[5] Realising it is another visitor, she tells Octavian to hide again, behind the bed-curtains, the only possible hiding-place.

[6] Meanwhile the servants seem to be preventing the intrusion of the newcomer, whom she now recognises as her cousin Baron Ochs. Before he comes in, Octavian has disguised himself as a maid and tries to escape, as the Baron bursts in, pushing the servants aside. Of course Her Grace will receive me, he declares, and is momentarily distracted by the pretty chambermaid, the disguised Octavian. The Baron, his eyes constantly turning towards the supposed chambermaid, reminds the Marschallin of the letter he had sent her, which she had put aside unread. He plans to marry the daughter of a recently ennobled Herr Faninal, having, as he assures her coarsely, blue blood enough for both of them. The Marschallin tries to find reasons for sending Octavian, now masquerading as the serving-girl Mariandel, out of the room, but she is frustrated by the Baron.

[7] The Baron takes the opportunity of the appearance of the Major-domo to invite Mariandel to supper with him, to the amusement of the Marschallin, who now observes the situation.

[8] The Baron explains his philosophy of love, the girls that appeal to him, season by season, and his unlimited appetite, now led on by Octavian, who feigns timidity.

[9] Ochs seeks to engage the supposed maidservant for his proposed wife, Sophie Faninal, suspecting good blood there and explaining that he always travels with one of his own bastard children as a servant. Ochs needs an emissary to carry the silver rose, symbol of his proposal, to his intended bride.

[10] The Marschallin suggests that Octavian, whose miniature she shows him, might do him this service. Ochs detects the similarity between the portrait and the supposed Mariandel, and the Marschallin explains that the girl’s parentage is as he suspects.

[11] Octavian at last makes his escape, slamming the little door in the Baron’s face, as he admits those waiting outside. Footmen enter, allowing the Marschallin to retire behind a screen, with her maid. The Notary, Head Cook, followed by a Milliner, a Scholar with a large book and a Vendor of animals, with small dogs and a monkey, enter. The intriguer Valzacchi, accompanied by Annina, makes his way in, followed by a noble Widow, with her three daughters, all in mourning. The Major-domo leads in the Singer and the Flautist. The French Milliner and the orphans rehearse their requests, with others of those present. The Marschallin emerges from behind the screen and sits before the dressing-table, presenting the Notary to the Baron and giving money to the youngest of the orphans. The Scholar is pushed aside by Valzacchi, who offers the Marschallin, in strongly accented German, a scandal-sheet with reports of the latest gossip, to be rejected. The Flautist starts to play, while the orphans express their thanks and with their mother take their leave. An anxious Hairdresser enters and sets to his work, with his assistant. The Marschallin is handed a note by the Major-domo, which the Hairdresser’s assistant, with her assent, now uses to cool the curling tongs of his trade.

[12] The Italian Singer sings his song of love. The Baron’s loutish Body-Servant enters, carrying a red morocco jewel-case, followed by the Baron’s Almoner, a diminutive and rough-looking hedge-priest, and by his Chasseur, in ill-fitting livery, looking more like a dung-cart driver. They quarrel for precedence.

[13] The Baron lays down to the Notary the terms of his proposed marriage, to his necessary financial advantage, whatever the law says, since Sophie Faninal must pay for the honour of marrying into the nobility. The Flautist starts to play again and the Singer continues his song, while the Baron interrupts, banging the table and refusing to understand the situation. The Marschallin graciously thanks and dismisses the Singer and the Flautist, while the Notary withdraws to a corner of the room, alarmed at the Baron’s behaviour.

[14] The Marschallin gently complains that the Hairdresser has made her look old and tells the Major-domo to allow her visitors to leave. Valzacchi and Annina seize the opportunity of offering their services to the Baron, to watch his young wife, and he accepts, now bringing forward his servant to show the Marschallin the silver rose in the jewel-case, which he now is to leave for Count Octavian to deliver. The Baron and his entourage leave and the servants close the door, as they go.

[15] The Marschallin, left alone, muses on the injustice that lies behind the Baron’s proposed marriage and her own earlier fate, marrying an older man as she left her convent school and now soon to be an old woman, as she can see so clearly.

[16] Octavian returns, now wearing his riding clothes and boots, sensing in the Marschallin’s sadness her anxiety at his possible discovery. She tries to calm his ardour, only too aware of the transitory nature of their love and her beauty. He weeps.

[17] The Marschallin tells Octavian how time, inexorably, runs on, bringing change; some day he will leave her for a younger woman and she herself will accept that.

[18] Octavian continues to deny such a possibility, but the Marschallin insists on the truth of what she says.

[19] Now she will go to church and then drive to lunch with an old relative: perhaps she will see him again, as she drives in the Prater, in the afternoon. Octavian takes his leave. The Marschallin has let Octavian go without even kissing him and she sends the footmen after him, but they are too late. She now gives the red morocco jewel case to the little Black Boy, telling him that the silver rose it contains must be given to Count Octavian.


CD 2

Act II

[1] The second act is set in the house of Herr von Faninal. There are central doors leading to an antechamber, doors to the right and left, a large window and chairs against the wall on each side.

[2] Faninal is saying goodbye to his daughter Sophie, reminding her of the importance of the day. Her duenna Marianne is watching at the window and the Major-domo reminds Faninal that he must be away, according to etiquette, before the silver rose is brought. He leaves, in order to fetch Baron Ochs, his future son-in-law. Marianne reports what is happening in the street, as Faninal drives away.

[3] Sophie prays, as she waits. The voices of couriers announce the approach of Octavian and Marianne sees the two carriages drawing near, the first empty and the second carrying the Rosenkavalier, the Rose-Bearer, Octavian.

[4] Octavian, dressed in white and silver, enters, holding in his hand the silver rose. He is followed by his footmen, his Hungarian retinue and the couriers, clad in white leather and with green ostrich feathers. A black servant carries Octavian’s hat and another footman carries the morocco jewel-case. Faninal’s servants follow. Octavian, blushing with embarrassment, approaches Sophie, who is equally disconcerted by his beauty as he by hers. He presents the rose to her, scented, which she receives in the happiness of new love.

[5] The servants have ranged themselves on each side and Sophie hands the rose to Marianne, while the servants place chairs for the three of them and withdraw. They sit. Sophie claims already to know Octavian from her study of the Almanach: she knows he is seventeen and knows his full name as well as his nick-name, Quinquin. Octavian is captivated by her innocent charm and her intentions for her imagined future.

[6] The sound of her father’s return with the Baron interrupts their conversation. They rise, as Faninal leads the Baron in, followed by his three servants, his bastard son, the Almoner and the Chasseur. Faninal presents to Sophie her future husband, who snubs Marianne and weighs up Sophie’s charms, behaving, as she thinks, like a horse-dealer. The Baron pays no further attention to Sophie, but tells Faninal of Octavian’s father’s supposed indiscretion and his own pride in his bastard son, employed as his body-servant. Marianne, impressed by a nobleman, tries to assure Sophie of the advantage of the match. The Major-domo escorts the Baron’s servants away, with most of the other servants.

[7] Happy with the wine and coarsely boasting of his nobility, Ochs turns his attention to Sophie, unaware of the irony of Octavian’s barbed compliment, seeing in him a future ambassador. He tries to make Sophie sit on his lap, and she angrily draws away from him. Faninal is pleased with the Baron’s easy manners, while Octavian is enraged. The Baron continues his open, uncouth attempts at flirtation, with similar reactions from the others. Sophie breaks away from him and Octavian angrily crushes the glass he is holding. Marianne runs to pick up the broken fragments, commenting on the Baron’s easy, aristocratic manners. The Major-domo, ushers in the Notary, with his clerk.

[8] The Baron is confident that after their wedding-night all will be clear to Sophie, who pushes him away. He appreciates a lively girl and congratulates himself on his luck.

[9] Ochs goes out with Faninal and the lawyer to settle matters, leaving Sophie with Octavian, who may, if he wishes, make eyes at her, as far as the Baron is concerned.

[10] Left alone with her, Octavian asks if she will really marry such a lout and assures her that he had never seen Ochs until the day before: he only calls him ‘cousin’ out of politeness. They are interrupted by Faninal’s maid-servants, trying to escape from the drunken attentions of the Baron’s men, followed by the Major-domo, who leaves with Marianne, to muster their own men to deal with the situation. Octavian now tells Sophie that everything rests with her. She kisses his hand and he kisses her on the lips, resolved to bring to reality his love for her and hers for him.

[11] As they are engrossed in their own recognition of their feelings for each other, they are observed by the intriguers Valzacchi and Annina. These two now scream out for the Baron. Valzacchi holds Octavian and Annina seizes Sophie, releasing them when the Baron appears. Sophie seeks comfort in Octavian’s proximity and the Baron observes the situation, seeking an answer from her. Since Sophie cannot reply, Octavian speaks for her, telling Ochs of her aversion and refusal to marry. The Baron regards this as nothing more than childish talk, refusing to understand, forcing Octavian to insult him openly and eventually to draw his sword and wound him, in spite of the attempts of the Baron’s servants, now summoned, to prevent him. The Baron shouts for help, supported by Valzacchi and Annina and his servants, now calling for a doctor. There is general confusion, as attempts are made to see to the Baron’s wound. Faninal rushes in, with the lawyer, and Annina explains, as she had to the servants before, that Octavian and Sophie were secretly engaged before.

[12] Faninal is horrified at the disaster in his house and reproaches Octavian, who begs his pardon, promising an explanation later from Sophie, who now openly rejects the Baron. Faninal asks Octavian to leave, while the doctor, who has arrived to attend to the Baron, assures them that the injury is not fatal. He bows in dismissal to Octavian, who returns the courtesy, but remains, while Sophie continues to refuse to marry the Baron. Octavian eventually leaves, while Marianne hurries Sophie away. Faninal fusses over the Baron, threatening Sophie with a convent and full of apologies.

[13] The Baron can now express his contempt for the young Octavian, recovering his humour as he drinks the wine Faninal has ordered his servants to bring. Annina steals in carrying a letter for the Baron, which he tells her to read to him.

[14] The letter is from Mariandel, the chambermaid, suggesting an assignation. Annina, as the messenger, expects a reward, but the Baron is too mean to pay her, leaving her ready to take revenge. Still drinking, he is escorted out to his room by his servants.


CD 3

Act III

[1] The third act takes place in a private room at an inn. At the back is a curtained alcove, holding a bed. A table is laid for two, with a many-branched candlestick standing on it. In one corner there is a fireplace, with a fire lit, and there are doors, one leading to a side room, one to a corridor. One of the windows is blind, another looks out on the street and there are candles in wall sconces and in candelabras on the sideboard and the chimney-piece. At the moment the room is only half-lit. Annina is seen dressed as a lady in mourning, with Valzacchi helping to adjust her veil and dress and adding make-up to her eyes. A head appears for a moment through the door. Then a not entirely unsuspicious-looking old woman ushers Octavian in, wearing women’s clothes and a cap, like a middle-class girl, Valzacchi bows to him and Annina, who does not recognise him, curtseys in astonishment. Octavian, like a man, feels in the pocket of the riding-breeches he wears under his dress and throws a purse to Valzacchi, who kisses his hands, while Annina helps to adjust Octavian’s kerchief. Five suspicious-looking men enter and Valzacchi signals to them to wait. The clock strikes and Octavian hurries out, followed by the old woman. Valzacchi signals to the men to be careful, hiding them in various places, while Annina takes out a paper and seems to be learning her part. He and Annina go out, but then he returns and claps his hands, at which the heads of those hiding appear in various places, with one man coming up through a trap-door and others from the alcove and from behind the panelling. At a sign from Valzacchi they disappear again. He opens the door and sets about lighting the candles on the table, while a waiter and a boy come in to light the other candles.

[2] Dance music is heard from an anteroom. Valzacchi opens the centre door and the Baron comes in, his arm in a sling, with Octavian as Mariandel and followed by his body-servant. The Baron stops more candles being lit. The Landlord greets the Baron, assisted by his waiters, and assures him that the musicians can come nearer, if he wishes. The Baron dismisses him and the waiters and puts out some of the candles, asking Valzacchi to help reduce the cost of the whole business. Valzacchi leaves them and Octavian, who has been adjusting his cap in the mirror over the fire-place, is led by the Baron to the table. The Baron tries to kiss Octavian’s hand and signals to his servant to withdraw.

[3] The Baron pours wine, which Octavian modestly refuses and feigns to try to leave and rushes, as if by mistake, to the alcove, revealing the bed. The Baron leads him back to the table and Octavian feigns to flirt modestly with him.

[4] The Baron explains how a gentleman like himself must behave, free of bourgeois pretensions. He is deterred from an attempt to kiss Mariandel by the marked resemblance to Octavian. One of the men appears too soon through the trap-door, but promptly disappears, at a sign from Octavian, who assures the Baron that there was nothing there. The latter is still disturbed by Mariandel’s resemblance to Octavian.

[5] The door opens and the sound of music is heard, as the Baron’s servant comes in to serve them. Mariandel starts crying at the pretty music and the Baron sends the servant away, although the man returns out of curiosity to look round the door and see how things are going.

[6] Mariandel’s melancholy continues: everything is hopeless, however much one may want it. The Baron suggests that her dress is too tight and tries to undo it and then, feeling hot himself, takes off his wig. At this moment a head appears in the alcove. He looks at Mariandel and seems to see Octavian and then sees another face staring at him from the wall. Terrified he seizes a hand-bell from the table and rings it in agitation. Now the blind window opens and Annina appears, calling for her husband, the Baron, and speaking in a respectable Bohemian German accent. She is followed by the Landlord and waiters, who observe in sympathy as she accuses the Baron of intended bigamy. He thinks he is going out of his mind and then seems to remember her. The four children she has brought with her now call for their father and the Baron tries to fend them off. The Landlord warns the Baron of the morality-police, who will take a stern view of bigamy, while the latter calls out for the police himself.

[7] At this moment a Police Officer enters and seems to mistake the unwigged Baron for the Landlord. The Baron announces his identity, but Valzacchi will not vouch for him, while Mariandel feigns agitation, threatening to drown herself and deliberately revealing the bed. The Baron, to avoid a charge of seduction, declares Mariandel his bride, the daughter of Herr von Faninal. Faninal now makes his way through the crowd of onlookers at the door, claiming to have been summoned by the Baron himself. The latter now has to try to explain that this is another Faninal, a relation. Faninal, however, insists that he is the father of the Baron’s bride, but not of the girl who is with the Baron: Sophie, he tells them, is in his carriage outside. The Baron rushes round looking for his wig, and the children renew their cries of ‘Papa’. Sophie enters and goes to her father, while the Baron tries to hide his baldness. Faninal is horrified at the scandal and rushes at the Baron, only to fall back, fainting, to be helped out by his servants and Sophie.

[8] The Baron finds his wig, regains something of his composure and declares himself ready to pay and go home. He will take Mariandel home with him and will, he says, probably marry her, he has no idea who the other woman is, with her children. Octavian refuses and calls the Police Officer aside, to explain to him the true situation. Now from behind the curtains of the alcove, Mariandel’s clothes are thrown, to the Baron’s alarm.

[9] The Baron must go to her, but now the Landlord announces the arrival of the Marschallin, who enters, attended by her people, her train carried by the little Black Boy. Octavian puts his head through the alcove curtains, but the Baron signals to him in agitation, fearing that the Marschallin will see. When the Baron’s back is turned, Octavian emerges, in his own clothes, telling the Marschallin that this was not as he had planned things. She looks at the Baron, as the door is opened and Sophie appears, telling the Baron that her father repudiates him entirely. He tries to go out to speak to Faninal, but is prevented by the latter’s servants. The Marschallin tells him to go, with what dignity he can, since his engagement is at an end. She explains to the Police Officer, an old soldier in her husband’s regiment, that the whole thing was simply a farce. The Officer and his constables withdraw. The Baron now sees Octavian and begins to understand something of the situation, but the Marschallin is adamant that his engagement with Sophie Faninal is now impossible.

[10] The Feldmarschallin advises the Baron to withdraw, as a gentleman should, to his dismay at the upsetting of his plans of marriage. Valzacchi comes in, with the men who had been concealed and with Annina, now as herself. The Landlord presents the Baron with a long bill. The Baron tries to leave, his way obstructed by Annina, the children and waiters, coachmen and house-boy, all of whom demand payment. Eventually he makes his escape.

[11] Now Sophie, the Marschallin and Octavian are left alone. Sophie realises the whole thing was only a farce and sees that Octavian is in love with the Marschallin.

[12] The older woman now urges Octavian to go to Sophie; she has already told him that sooner or later he must leave her. She looks closely at Sophie, guessing her feelings for Octavian, who has been standing embarrassed.

[13] The three express their own mixed feelings, the Marschallin sadness at the sacrifice that she must now make, Sophie understanding Octavian’s divided feelings, and Octavian himself now in love with Sophie.

[14] The Marschallin leaves the lovers together. For both of them this is a dream. The Marschallin returns with Faninal, ready to give the couple his blessing. She and Faninal leave the couple together once more.

[15] For both of them the whole thing is a dream, that now they can be together for ever. Sophie falls into Octavian’s arms. They kiss and run out of the room together, Sophie dropping her handkerchief. The little Black Boy trots in, retrieves the handkerchief and trips out again, as the curtain falls.

Keith Anderson


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