Renée Fleming takes the Met stage as the Countess in Strauss's Capriccio. She stars opposite Joseph Kaiser’s Flamand and Russell Braun as Olivier in the one-act opera the composer called a “conversation piece.” Andrew Davis, music director of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, conducts.
Capriccio had its premiere at the Munich Opera on October 28, 1942. For Strauss, who died in 1949, it would be his last opera.
Capriccio’s notably thin plotline centers on a debate: which aspect is more important to an opera—the libretto or the music? Strauss had fun with the question, playing it out to comic effect with a parody of 18th-century opera duets.
But Strauss's signature melodic style shines in such moments as Flamand’s composition to honor the Countess, “Kein anders dass mir so im Herzen loht,” Olivier’s air “Tanz und Musik stehn im Bann des Rhythmus,” and the Countess’ concluding aria, “Ihre Liebe.”
With a libretto written by Clemens Krauss, with some help from the composer, Capriccio never delivers a strong verdict on the words vs. music debate of its focus. The work concludes as the Countess, gazing into her mirror, sings:
“Do you want to be consumed between two fires?
You mirrored image of Madeleine in love,
Can you advise me, can you help me to find the ending. . .
The ending for their opera?
Is there one that is not trivial?”
Cast and credits:
Conductor: Andrew Davis
Countess: Renée Fleming
Clairon: Sarah Connolly
Flamand: Joseph Kaiser
Olivier: Russell Braun
The Count: Morten Frank Larsen
La Roche: Peter Rose
Production: John Cox