By James Devitt
January 28, 2011
NYU’s Center for European and Mediterranean Studies celebrated the centennial of the first performance of “Der Rosenkavalier,” the comic opera by Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal, with a symposium in late January. Co-sponsored by NYU’s Department of Music and the Remarque Institute, the event drew Evelyn Lear one of the great Strauss sopranos of the 20th century. Lear sang all three of the great roles in “Der Rosenkavalier,” performing in many of the world's greatest opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera.
The pre-war artistic creation brought together Germany’s most famous composer, Strauss, and Austria’s most celebrated poet, von Hofmannsthal, who combined with the stagecraft of Max Reinhardt and Alfred Roller to create an operatic work of psychological delicacy and emotional intensity. At the same time, it’s regarded as one of opera’s most extravagant celebrations of the female voice. “Der Rosenkavalier” was immediately a huge success in Dresden in 1911, where it was first performed, and continues to be performed all over the world today.
The symposium was organized by Larry Wolff, director of the Center for European and Mediterranean Studies, and Michael Beckerman chair of the Department of Music, and also featured historian Michael Steinberg of Brown, musicologist Bryan Gilliam of Duke, and director Robin Guarino, who staged the last Met revival of “Der Rosenkavalier.”
Photo credit: Allison Faris.