OUTSTANDING CAST OF RISING AND ESTABLISHED STARS
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 10, 2023, 2.30pm
‘Intense and shattering… Who would want to go to Bayreuth when they can go to Saffron Hall?’
Michael Tanner – The Spectator
After hugely acclaimed performances of major Wagnerian operas The Ring Cycle, Tristan und Isolde, Parsifal, Die Meistersinger, and Tannhäuser, and other works by Mozart and Stravinsky, Saffron Opera Group now turns its attention to a concert performance of one of the most popular but demanding operatic comedies in the repertoire: Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier.
The 1911 opera employs Wagnerian musical language to tell the story of Octavian, a young eighteenth century nobleman who becomes the love rival of a pompous and boorish old baron. Although a riotous comedy of cross-dressing and mistaken identities, the work also has a bittersweet tang because of the the participation of the Marschallin, a sophisticated older woman who gradually steels herself to give up Octavian so that he may find love elsewhere.
Taking the pivotal role of the Marschallin is British soprano Sarah Redgwick. A singer with all the richness of sound and vocal power which the role demands, Redgwick has appeared with many UK companies (including English National Opera, Opera North, Opera Holland Park, Scottish Opera) and at several international venues, including the Théâtre de Châtelet and the Gran Teatre del Liceu. ‘She has power to burn, both musically and dramatically,’ said Opera Magazine.
In the role of Octavian is mezzo Catherine Carby, (of whom The Independent wrote ‘This is world class singing’) who recently triumphed as a passionate and commanding Waltraute in Götterdämmerung at Longborough Opera. She has also sung other major Wagnerian roles for the Royal Opera and Teatro Sao Carlos, Lisbon, and has performed Octavian both in her native Australia and for Scottish Opera.
Andrew Greenan returns to the company as the blustering and blundering Baron Ochs. A particular favourite with Saffron Opera audiences for his huge sound and incisive dramatic insight revealed in principal roles in Die Meistersinger, Parsifal, and Tannhäuser, he was also called ‘irresistible… and spellbinding’ by The Guardian for his performance as The Wanderer in Siegfried. The list of houses at which he has performed important roles includes The Metropolitan Opera, The Royal Opera, and La Scala.
Completing the principal cast is young British soprano Lucy Hall as Octavian’s ingénue love-interest Sophie. Noted for her ‘glittering coloratura and untiring top notes’ (BachTrack), she has sung for English National Opera, Scottish Opera and English Touring Opera, among many others.
Der Rosenkavalier is notable for having no large tenor role. Instead Strauss gives the principal tenor a small but show-stopping cameo role called ‘The Italian Singer’ in Act 1, and for this SOG is fortunate to have the much-lauded international artist Bonaventura Bottone. He has performed The Italian Singer at Covent Garden and at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, and also recorded the role.
In one of the many accompanying roles of the opera, SOG favourite Elaine McKrill (who has previously sung Isolde, Brünnhilde and Kundry for the company) appears as Marianne, Sophie’s duenna. Other important supporting roles are taken by William Dazeley, Peter van Hulle, and Georgia Mae Bishop.
The orchestra is conducted by SOG’s chief conductor Michael Thorne (‘at one with the spirit… and dramatic architecture of the work’, Seen and Heard), who has successfully led all of SOG’s previous performances with verve and passion.
Saffron Opera Group was founded by opera-loving Saffron Walden residents Paul Garland and Francis Lambert in 2013, and is now run by Lambert and Jeff Thomson. Its inaugural production was Wagner’s Die Meistersinger in 2014, and its ambitious concerts of The Ring Cycle and Parsifal and Tannhaüser have been among the most successful UK Wagnerian events of recent years.
Saffron Opera Group performs Der Rosenkavalier
Sunday 10 September, 2023
Audley End Road
0845 548 7650
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