When she steps on stage this Thursday to take her final run of Richard Strauss’ “Der Rosenkavalier,” Renée Fleming will have closed a door to one of the roles that was at the core of her legacy at the Metropolitan Opera.
The new Robert Carsen Production has a star-studded cast with the likes of Elina Garanca, Matthew Polenzani, Erin Morley and Günther Groissböck, but let’s be real – this is all about Fleming.
The First One
She sang her very first Met performance of the Marschallin at the turn of the century on Jan. 20, 2000 alongside Susan Graham (who has performed with her as Octavian in every single performance to date), Franz Hawlata, Heidi Grant Murphy and Stuart Neill. That run would last six performances, the final one on Feb. 10, 2000. Met Music Director James Levine led the ensemble from the pit.
One year later, she went on tour with the Met and performed the work four times with the same principal cast and a few alterations here and there for smaller roles. One such change was the inclusion of tenors Ramón Vargas and Matthew Polenzani alternating as the Italian Singer. Performances took place in Nagoya, Tokohama, and Tokyo. Andrew Davis conducted the tour performances of Strauss’ masterwork.
Eight years later, she returned to the role. The first performance of the eight-show run on Oct. 13, 2009, starred Graham (of course), Vargas, Kristinn Sigmundsson and Miah Persson among others. Later shows in the run would see Christin Schäfer replace Persson and Eric Cutler take over for Vargas. The performance on Jan. 9, 2010, which featured the latter additions would be recorded and transmitted to movie theaters around the world as part of the Met’s Live in HD Series. Edo de Waart conducted the run, the final performance coming on Jan. 15, 2010.
The Grand Finale
And now comes the final run. To this point, it has been 18 performances and if everything goes according to plan, Fleming will end with 27 performances as the Marschallin with the company, 23 in the house itself. This run, which features a total of nine performances, will be her longest-ever of the role at the Met, eclipsing the eight she sang in 2009-10. More impressively, when she sang that 2009-10 run, she sang the first four shows in October and the final five in January; this run has no such break with all nine performances taking place between April 13 and May 13, the final day of the season.
This run will also get an HD broadcast on the 13th.