Richard Strauss (1864-1949)

Der Rosenkavalier
Act 3 (Trio): “Hab’ mir’s gelobt, ihn lieb zu haben”

Solti first conducted Der Rosenkavalier at the Munich Opera on the occasion of the composer’s 85th birthday, 11 June 1949, in a production by Georg Hartmann. “If I had to do my first Rosenkavalier today with the composer in the audience, I would die of fear” (Memoirs, 77). It was the first of three occasions at which Solti met Strauss, a composer whose works were to figure prominently in his career. Strauss was accommodating and generous in his advice to the young conductor preparing the opera: “Just recite the text and you will find the right tempi…[and]…don’t do what Clemens Krauss so often does. He beats the waltz in three. Try to stay in one. This makes the phrasing more natural” (79). Just three months after the Munich performances, Solti conducted the opera’s final trio at Strauss’ funeral. “Marianne Schech sang the part of the Marschallin, Maud Cunitz was Octavian, and Gerda Sommerschuh was Sophie. One after the other, each singer broke down in tears and dropped out of the ensemble, but they recovered themselves and we all ended together” (80). Strauss’s beloved opera also served as Solti’s debut vehicle at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, 4 December 1959.

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