Glyndebourne launches the summer festival season with a new production by Richard Jones of Strauss’s popular comedy, with conductor Robin Ticciati undertaking his first assignment as the company’s music director - and with considerable flair. The overall result is a substantial hit for the internationally renowned event, just 10 days following the death of Sir George Christie, who steered its path upwards for many years; the current chairman, his son Gus, remembers him in a moving tribute immediately before curtain up.
Kate Royal, centre, in Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss, Glyndebourne Photo: Tristram Kenton
Sir George would surely have been delighted to see the audience reacting so positively to this latest show. Jones’ sense of stagecraft and gift for drawing exceptional performances from his cast make this one of the sharpest yet also most moving realisations the opera has had in the UK for decades. The visuals - notably the sets by Paul Steinberg, Nicky Gillibrand’s costumes and Mimi Jordan Sherin’s lighting - are extraordinarily accomplished, adding to the wit and atmosphere of the whole presentation.
There are some notable performances. Kate Royal may lack an ideal lyrical expansiveness for the role of the Marschallin, but she is a radiant actress and looks marvellous; few sopranos could bring off the opening scene naked, as she so confidently does. As Octavian, Tara Erraught lacks the boyish physique and male mannerisms needed by the Marschallin’s teenage lover, though the Irish mezzo’s voice is rich enough. Teodora Gheorghiu makes a perfectly poised Sophie, while Michael Kraus is superb as her socially ambitious father Faninal; though the evening’s great discovery is the outstandingly sung and acted Baron Ochs of Lars Woldt, who goes right to the top of the class.