- David Murray
Lyrische Komödie in three acts by Richard Strauss to a libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal; Dresden, Staatsoper, 1 July 1933.
This opera was the last of the Hofmannsthal–Strauss collaborations: which fact is poignantly registered in the opera itself, not to its advantage. A few days after the writer had sent Strauss his final version of Act 1, his only son committed suicide, and within 36 hours Hofmannsthal himself suffered a fatal stroke. Out of respect, the grieving composer resolved to set both the provisional draft of Act 2 and the still more tentative draft of Act 3 just as they stood, though Act 1 – one of the best-made first acts in the repertory – had been the result of long and strenuous reworking by the partners. A certain diffuseness in the later acts is disguised by their best scenes (the betrothal duet and the final making-up) and sometimes also by performers who can make the most of their sympathetic characters even when the action limps. Despite a triumphal première, ...