Masterworks 6: Golden Glamour features Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier Suite, a beautiful arrangement of highlights from the opera that showcase the composer’s mastery of orchestration and storytelling through music.

Premiering in 1911 with a libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Der Rosenkavalier was immediately successful; it tackles themes including infidelity, aging, and the selflessness of true love (through an extravagantly complicated plot).

The womanizing, aging Baron Ochs is seeking to marry (or rather conquer) the young and beautiful Sophie. He sends Octavian, a handsome page, to court her on his behalf and sends along a traditional engagement gift: a silver rose. Sophie accepts the gift and the engagement, but she and Octavian fall instantly in love. The two young lovers contrive of a comedic plan to release Sophie from her engagement to the Baron and ultimately end up together.

Strauss laced Der Rosenkavalier with waltz tunes at the request of his librettist although the opera is set in 18th century Vienna, a point in time in which the waltz didn’t exist in aristocratic ballrooms. The result is a score known for its ravishing beauty “that revels in the splendor, opulence, and charm of Vienna’s golden age” (John Mangum, LA Phil).

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