For a comic opera, Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier certainly is maudlin. The Marschallin (Renée Fleming) is an older noblewoman with a younger lover, Octavian (played by Susan Graham for reasons soon to be made clear), and she's very aware that someday soon her beau will leave her for a woman closer her own age. But what can a woman do — it's not as if she can make herself younger, and she can't stop time. When the Marschallin's bucolic cousin Baron Ochs arrives, his plans to find a pretty young wife are confounded by his own stupidity and by Octavian, who for various reasons has disguised himself as a chambermaid (now you know why Octavian is played by a woman). Octavian acts as a go-between for the baron and his would-be betrothed, but he quickly falls in love with the young woman, thus fulfilling the Marschallin's sad prophecy. Love is found and lost, the arrogant are brought low, and the Marschallin is left with nothing more than her dignity — which is more than can be said for Baron Ochs. The Metropolitan Opera's matinee performance of Der Rosenkavalier is broadcast in HD today at noon in the auditorium of the Saint Louis Art Museum in Forest Park (314-721-0072 or www.slam.org), with conductor Edo de Waart filling in for James Levine, who's still recuperating from back surgery. Tickets are $15 to $22.
Sat., Jan. 9, 2010