Excitement filled the air as the members of the Bayerisches Staatsorchester arrived on stage and Maestro Kirill Petrenko took to the stand. We were all still floating high after their outstanding debut performance the night before at New York City’s coveted Carnegie Hall, audience members began clapping even before they played the first note of Strauss’ “Der Rosenkavalier.” Their delicate and emotional performance of Brahm’s Concerto for Violin and Cello, with esteemed Julia Fischer and accomplished cellist Daniel Müller-Schott, proved this orchestra was a perfect fit for the hall’s intimate atmosphere.
Although Petrenko is just now making his mark at this particular hall, which is hard to believe, he is widely known to be a great master of his craft. In fact, he will be the Berlin orchestra’s newest conductor starting in the 2018-2019 season, which is quite the accomplishment. His heart and passion for the music he conducts can be felt in both recordings and live performances, so hearing his take on Strauss’ robust and very sensual “Der Rosenkavalier,” was sure to be ground-breaking.
More than the Maestro
Angela Brower and Adrianne Pieczonka set the tone for the evening in their own roles as Octavian and Feldmarschallin. With a passionate and flourishing overture, the two lovers reveled in all their glory and the audience immediately sensed that their chemistry was quite special. One could visually see and feel their fondness for each other, which further enhanced the emotions leading up to Marchallin’s main aria in Act one, “Da geht er hin.” Pieczonka’s warm timbre was an inspiration to the listener, her voice’s earthiness and deep connection to text through tone was solid. Sometimes singers in this role fall flat, because they concentrate on weighing their voice down to appear older in order to fit the mold. But, Pieczonka proved her middle voice’s precision and showcased her voice’s best colors. Pieczonka was enjoyed thoroughly by all listeners and smiles were present when she directed her eyes out into the hall to connect with everyone as she sang.
The role of Octavian, played by Angela Brower was the perfect match, as she coyly and youthfully acted in any given moment. Brower naturally carried a glowing light while she sang and as Strauss’ longest ever written opera progressed late into the night, she blossomed and transformed with every phrase.
Peter Rose played Baron Ochs and also contributed to the increasing gaiety of the night. He playfully interacted with Maestro Petrenko and confirmed that this performance was real and purely magical. Grinning with bright and mischievous eyes, Rose carried us willingly down his rabbit hole of a self-destructive sexual appetite. What else could one do when his world was crumbling around him based on his actions, but laugh as he and Maestro Petrenko playful expressed each attempt to call for help after being accidentally injured by Octavian. As Hoffmansthal instructed Strauss when writing for this opera, he made mention the importance of laughter and waltzes in order to really entertain opera revelers. Digging into both of these tasks was Petrenko, as he opened up an entire world based on his imagination in order to bring this all to life.
Rounding out the Cast
Hanna-Elisabeth Müller, as Sophie, also added a special touch to the vocal mix with her beautiful high notes and glowing persona. She seemed the perfect match for Octavian and the audience was in awe when all three women sang together in the climactic trio. Müller was able to stretch her voice all the way to the back of the hall at times, which showed her stamina in full force, while also paying close attention to delicate phrases and delivering them with grace.
The choir members of the Bayerische Staatsoper added a nice touch to the evening as they joined in and added even more excitement to the overall performance. It was nice to see them connecting with Petrenko while under his baton because even they seemed to have a close bond with the awe-inspiring Maestro.
“Der Rosenkavalier” was most popular after its success in 1911 at the Dresden State Opera. When one thinks what it must have sounded like at the height of its popularity, they could and should compare it to the joy and excitement everyone felt at Carnegie Hall with Maestro Petrenko, and the Bayerische Staatsorchester and Staatsoper. The audience was thrilled, entertained and very inspired to share such a special moment with these outstanding performers, as they witnessed history being made.