Wednesday, October 6, 2010


(Emma Pearson, Sophie; Manfred Hemm, Baron Ochs; Catherine Carby, Octavian; Cheryl Barker, Princess Marie Therese of Werdenberg)

Something's wrong. There's some magic at the Sydney Opera House, in the Opera Theatre, where a quite beautiful production of Der Rosenkavalier is having an eight performance run (two down, six to go) and the place is half empty. Explain yourselves. I was blessed to be guided there by somone-who-knows, or I could have been caught napping as well. So, explain yourselves people of Sydney and people of Opera Australia. Is it that hard, or that long? Didn't Patrcik Veitch (past GM of The Australian Opera) chastise with 'housewives in Vienna vacuum to Der Rosenkavalier!' ?

What audiences are missing, and what the company isn't telling anyone, anywhere, anytime, is that this cast in this production is ravishing. It's late and I'm red-eyed but you need to know now, and I'll tell you now, if they wont: it's ravishing.

I think this role fits Cheryl Barker just perfectly. Not since her Emily - EM, now MT. She's a woman of the world and a woman of lineage, one eye on the past, and one eye on the future, and both eyes on the present. She's ravishing of voice with a presence of utmost simplicity with the most complex of emotions distilled in the slightest turn of the body and angle of head or glance of an eye.

Catharine Carby's Octavian was faultless. Emma Pearson's Sophie was sublime. Baron Ochs was in the very experienced hands of Austrian born Manfred Hemm. The band played on and on, waved about by Mr Andrew Litton (of Bergen fame) and after a ricketty start, by Act 3 had reached a Straussian high of such frissson it seemed they had doubled in size.

There were two rose presentations. The first was the one which brought me to tears. Marie Therese places the silver rose in a red leather box, held by her little helper, here the most gorgeous Asian boy, exquisitely dressed. And as she gently with two hands, bending over him, slips the rose into its case, the future into its place, every ounce of her being reveals the rest of the story. At that moment she is handing Octavian on. Oh Cheryl.

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