Capriccio, Op. 85, TrV 279 (excerpts)

With its new production of Capriccio on 7 June 2008, the Vienna State Opera is reviving a long-standing tradition in a house where the onstage debate over the relative merits of the words or the music in opera has always been conducted between the finest representatives of their profession. The work was first staged in Salzburg in 1950 in a production subsequently seen in Vienna. Both here and in Salzburg, the Countess was for many years sung by Lisa Della Casa in one of the Strauss roles with which she was most closely associated. The present live recording from 1964 is the first official record of this altogether ideal interpretation. The conductor is Georges Prêtre, who was also in charge of the 2008 New Year’s Day Concert from Vienna. As long ago as 1964 he was already demonstrating his Strauss credentials over and above his affinities with the Viennese Waltz King and his dynasty. It virtually goes without saying that the singers who were engaged to appear with Lisa Della Casa were in every way her equals. Her difficulty in choosing between poetry and music becomes all the more understandable when the representatives of these two art forms are artists of the stature of Waldemar Kmentt and Walter Berry. Both men were among the company’s leading singing actors during the second half of the 20th century, bringing to their present parts both striking vocalism and an impassioned wooing of the woman on whom they have set their hearts. As we might expect, Berry also cuts an impressive figure when declaiming the sonnet that undergoes several transformations in the course of the opera. No less impressive is the American baritone Robert Kerns, whom Herbert von Karajan had invited to join the Vienna State Opera ensemble two years previously and who remained with the company until his premature death at the age of fifty-five in 1989. As the Count he displays all his natural charm in his attempts to win the hand of Christa Ludwig’s imposing Clairon. Otto Wiener was more of a heroic baritone than either Berry or Kerns, allowing him to bring all the necessary authority to the role of the theatre manager La Roche and to his great address. Last but not least are the two „Italian“ singers, whom it would be difficult to imagine better cast today: the young Lucia Popp and Fritz Wunderlich turn Strauss’s witty parody of Italian bel canto singing into a serious highlight of the work, presenting us with an altogether classic example of this particular vocal style.

Capriccio, Op. 85, TrV 279 (excerpts)
1.     Introduction
2.     Scene 1: Bezaubernd ist sie heute wieder! (Flamand, Olivier)
3.     Scene 1: Bei sanfter Musik schlaft sich's am besten (Director, Olivier, Flamand)
4.     Scene 2: Der Strom der Tone trug mich fort (Countess, Count)
5.     Scene 3: Die Buhne ist furtig, wir konnen beginnen (Director, Count, Countess, Flamand, Olivier, Clarion)
6.     Scene 4: Ihr geht (Clairon, Count)
7.     Scene 4: Bravo! Bravo! Sie sind wirklich kein Laie (Clairon, La Roche, Countess, Flamand, Olivier)
8.     Scene 5: Kein Andres, das mir so im Herzen loht (Count, Flamand, Olivier)
9.     Scene 6: Wie schon die Worte, kaum kenn' ich sie wieder! (Countess, Olivier, Flamand, Director)
10.     Scene 7: Verraten hab' ich meine Gefuhle! (Flamand, Countess)
11.     Scene 7: Wir werden die Schokolade hier (Countess)
12.     Scene 8: Welch' kostliche Begegnung! (Count, Countess, Director, Olivier Clairon)
13.     Scene 9: Dance I: Passepied: Was sagt Ihr! Die personafizierte Grazie - Dance II: Gigue: Wie soll ich dir danken (Director, Olivier, Clairon)
14.     Scene 9: Dance III: Gavotte: Eure Kunst entzuckt und begeistert mich - Fugue: Discussion on the Theme: Words or Music: Tanz und Musik (Olivier, Flamand, Director, Count, Countess, Clairon)
15.     Scene 9: Duet of the Italian Singers: Addio, mia vita, addio (Tenor, Soprano)

Disc 2

1.     Scene 9: Darf ich Sie nach Paris zuruckbringen (Count, Clairon, Countess, Director, Olivier, Flamand)
2.     Scene 9: Octet, Part 2: Dispute: Ensemble - Aber so hort doch! (Director, Olivier, Flamand, Count, Countess, Tenor, Soprano, Clairon)
3.     Scene 9: Hola! ihr Streiter in Apoll! (Director)
4.     Scene 10: La Roche, du bist gross, du bist monumental! (Clairon, Olivier, Flamand, Countess, Count, Director)
5.     Scene 11: Adieu La Roche! (Clairon, Olivier, Flamand, Countess, Count, Director, Major-Domo)
6.     Scene 12: Herr Director! (Monsieur Taupe, Major-Domo)
7.     Mondscheinmusik
8.     Scene 13: Wo ist mein Bruder? (Countess, Major-Domo)
9.     Scene 13: Morgen mittag um elf! (Countess)
10.     Scene 13: Ihre Liebe schlagt mir entgegen (Countess, Major-Domo)

Total Playing Time: 02:10:05