What Can Met Opera Audiences Expect From New Robert Carsen ‘Der Rosenkavalier?’ Early Reactions to ROH Production Debut

By David Salazar

At the end of the 2016-17 season, the Metropolitan Opera will premiere a new production of Strauss’ venerated “Der Rosenkavalier” directed by Robert Carson. From the looks of it, this production is slated to be a huge success for some but could put off more traditional audiences.

The production, which is shared with the Royal Opera House in London, is more of an updated of the production that Carsen did back in 2004 for the Salzburg Festival, which has been previously released on home video. That production was known for its exploration of the decadence of society during the First World War and received some mixed reviews at the time. The major points of contention include Faninal’s characterization as an arms dealer and the final act in a brothel full of nudity.

According to The Arts Desk, this new production for the ROH and Met makes nods to the original productions sets with the exception of the second act which is by far the most divergent from Carsen’s original vision.

Both The Arts Desk and The Telegraph called the production “handsome” while The Guardian was far less complimentary in its comments. “Carsen’s staging proves to be the least involving element of the evening, providing more irritations than insight,” writes The Guardian’s Andrew Clements.

The Carsen production is a replacement for John Schlesinger’s elegant and traditional approach to the Rococo comedy, with most critics noting that the newer production is a far cry from its predecessor. The same will likely hold true for Met audiences that will be seeing the first new production of the work since Nathaniel Merrill’s version bowed back in 1969. As noted by The New York Times’ Zachary Woolfe in an article written in 2013, the Met audiences are known for adoring more traditional approaches to work and have a reticence toward newer takes on opera.

Carsen has had success at the Met over the years, bringing a successful “Falstaff” to the house and an acclaimed “Eugene Onegin” that was beloved more than the production that replaced it a few seasons ago.

The Met’s new production premieres on April 13, 2017 and runs through May 13. The production stars Renee Fleming, Elina Garanca, Erin Morley and Matthew Polenzani.