CHICAGO – Lyric Opera of Chicago’s lavish production of Richard Strauss’s delectably bittersweet romantic comedy Der Rosenkavalier continues tonight, Friday, March 4, with acclaimed English mezzo-soprano Alice Coote portraying Octavian for the four final performances through Sunday, March 13.
The opera centers on the “Knight of the Silver Rose,” the teenage Count Octavian (Alice Coote), who is amorously involved with a woman twice his age, the Marschallin, sung by Amanda Majeski. Her cousin, the boorish Baron Ochs (Matthew Rose/debut), plans to marry the lovely young Sophie (Christina Landshamer/American debut) for her family’s money. Sophie, however, falls hard for the betrothal messenger Octavian instead, and he with her. Much merry confusion ensues – including Ochs pursuing a chambermaid who’s really Octavian in disguise – before the rapturous trio and duet that conclude this musically divine comedy, when the Marschallin releases her young lover and Sophie and Octavian are joyfully united.
Edward Gardner conducts the production directed by Martina Weber (both debuts). Sets and costumes are designed by Thierry Bosquet with lighting by Duane Schuler. Michael Black is chorus master. French soprano Sophie Koch sang the four February performances.
Alice Coote has triumphed as Octavian previously in New York, Vienna, Munich, Los Angeles, and Geneva; and as Strauss’s Composer in Ariadne auf Naxos at Lyric and in Munich, London, Paris, and Toronto. Coote debuted at Lyric in Hansel and Gretel, returning as Orlovsky/Die Fledermaus and Dejanira/Hercules. The renowned English mezzo-soprano has performed extensively and with great success in a wide range of roles internationally (San Francisco, Frankfurt, Salzburg, Amsterdam, Boston, and elsewhere, in addition to the leading opera houses in the cities mentioned above). Her repertoire includes the trouser roles of Monteverdi, Gluck, Mozart, Massenet, and Strauss, and also female roles such as Poppea, Carmen, Charlotte, and Berlioz’s Marguerite. Coote has numerous critically praised recordings to her credit, including recent solo discs of Schuman lieder and French art song.
Watch the video below to see Alice Coote’s transformation into Octavian: