Introducing... Der Rosenkavalier

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Our Introducing… series examines Strauss’s sumptuous Der Rosenkavalier.

Get a taste of Richard Jones’ timeless production in this trailer:

Need to know

Set in a fantasy 18th century Vienna, Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier is a delightful comedy, gilded in some of the composer’s most exquisite music. ‘I have spent three quiet afternoons drafting…the scenario for an opera,’ wrote librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal. ‘It is full of burlesque situations and characters… almost like a pantomime. There are opportunities in it for lyrical passages, for fun and humour.’

The Field Marshall’s wife, the Marschallin, is in love with the young Count Octavian Rofrano, but knows their liaison cannot last. When the young man meets the beautiful Sophie, the Marschallin understands that she must give him up to her rival, and give her blessing to the marriage that will secure his happiness. But her cousin, the lusty Baron Ochs, also has designs on Sophie and her father’s wealth, and the young lovers must scheme and plot to extricate Sophie from her engagement to the boorish Baron.

A sensuous score Strauss himself compared to ‘melted butter’ runs thick with golden strings and sparkling woodwind, conjuring a fairy-tale-like romance from a plot that blends comedy and tragedy to intoxicating effect.

You can discover more about the opera in our in-depth podcast:

Why this opera

Described as ‘magnificent and witty’ by The Observer, Richard Jones’s lively production captures both the pastel-coloured prettiness of 18th century Vienna and the anarchic, timeless humour of Strauss’s romantic comedy. The result is a riot of sensation and excess – a musical and dramatic feast.

Strauss’s love of the female voice persisted throughout his career, but nowhere is it expressed with more sensuality and tenderness than in the expansive music of Der Rosenkavalier and its heroine – no pert ingénue, but a mature, sexually-confident woman (a theme also explored this season in Samuel Barber’s Vanessa).

The opera’s final love duet, in which Octavian and Sophie celebrate their love in music that’s an ecstatic, sensual release after the opera’s earlier tensions and plot-twists, is one of Der Rosenkavalier’s greatest moments – a celebration of young love, desire and blissful happiness. The lovers’ musical lines mirror and shadow one another, dovetailing and interweaving in instinctive sympathy.

Cast and creative team

Glyndebourne Music Director Robin Ticciati, returns to conduct Richard Jones’s colourful and witty production. He will mine a wealth of detail from Strauss’s lavish orchestral writing, bringing this glittering score into fresh focus with his conducting.

Following her radiant performance as the Composer in 2013’s Ariadne auf Naxos, American mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey dons britches again for her new ‘trouser role’ at Glyndebourne as the Marschallin’s youthful lover Octavian, with soprano Erin Morley (a sparkling Zerbinetta in Ariadne in Festival 2017) as his beloved Sophie. The role of The Marschallin will be played by Rachel Willis-Sørensen (20 May – 2 June) and Michaela Kaune (8 June – 26 June), both making their Glyndebourne debuts.

Glyndebourne regular Brindley Sherratt is the libidinous Baron Ochs – the first of two roles the British bass takes in this year’s Festival, returning later in the summer as King Arkel in Stefan Herheim’s new production of Pelléas et Mélisande.

Things to look out for

Photo: Bill Cooper

Look out for the 41 costume changes in Der Rosenkavalier which need ​15 members of backstage staff to facilitate. The Marschallin has four costume changes, including a one​-​minute quick change into a white floral panier dress which took three costume​​-makers over 120 hours to make. Octavian has seven costumes changes, one an impressive five​-​second quick change as the singer walks around the back of the set to change from boy to girl.

Der Rosenkavalier is on stage at Festival 2018 from 20 May – 26 June – book now.

Opportunities to support this production begin at £5,000. If you would like to find out more please contact the Development team on +44(0)1273 815 400 (Monday-Friday, 10.00am-5.00pm) or at

Der Rosenkavalier is supported by The Monument Trust
and a Syndicate of Individuals​