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Capriccio by Richard Strauss at the Teatro Real

27 May 2019 Capriccio by Richard Strauss at the Teatro Real

To really appreciate one of Madrid’s most iconic buildings there is no better way than to visit it in the manner in which it was designed to be experienced. The Teatro Real’s staging of the Richard Strauss opera Capriccio provides such an opportunity, taking place between the end of May and the beginning of June. The majestic setting, the world class acoustics, the romantic music of Richard Strauss, what better way to discover one of Madrid’s premier cultural attractions with all the pomp and ceremony that goes with the opera.

 

The Teatro Real’s new production of Capriccio

After a period of 8 years without having staged any of Strauss works Capriccio represents a powerful and imaginative staging of his final opera. The stage manager for this production is the celebrated Christof Loy and the musical direction is undertaken by Asher Fisch, a respected Strauss expert. The set design is by Raimund Orfeo Voigt. Produced by the Teatro Real, in co-production with the Opernhaus Zürich and the Göteborg Opera Principal Orchestra of the Teatro Real (Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid) the opera features soprano Malin Byström, baritone Josef Wagner and tenor Norman Reinhardt in the principal roles.

 

The Teatro Real, part of Madrid’s history and architectural patrimony

Celebrating its bicentenary in 2018 the Teatro Real was founded by Ferdinand VII in 1818 and was finally completed in 1850. It is situated directly in front of the imposing Palacio Real between the contrasting neighbourhoods of La Latina and Asturias in the south western area of Madrid. The Teatro Real is one of the capital city’s major architectural highlights and is considered to be amongst the great theatres of Europe. With a seating capacity of 1,746 seats the theatre stages opera productions, ballets and recitals which are held there all year round making this building a vital and vibrant part of the capital city’s cultural scene.

 

Capriccio, a lesser known opera by Richard Strauss

Capriccio is organised as a single act opera, the German libretto was written by Clemens Krauss in collaboration with Strauss based on a former work by Stefan Zweig and Joseph Gregor. The action unfolds at a château where a Countess is being pursued by two suitors, a pretext for staging an argument regarding the merits of art, poetry and music. The opera’s subtitle is “A Conversation Piece for Music”, and is structured as an opera within an opera. Originally lasting two and a half hours without an intermission, nowadays contemporary productions usually include a break in between the different scenes.  

The work was first staged in Munich at the Nationaltheatre München on October 1942 in the midst of the Second World War. Its first staging in the United States did not occur until 1958 when it was performed at The Santa Fe Opera after it had been staged by the renowned Julliard School four year before in 1954. Because of its conversational approach and uninterrupted length Capriccio is one of Strauss lesser known works.

 

Richard Strauss

Richard Strauss (1864 – 1949) was a German composer born in Munich who is known as both a composer and orchestral conductor. His operas (the most famous of which are Elektra as well as Salome), Lieder, tone poems and other instrumental works continue to be enjoyed around the world today. During his lifetime he achieved a quasi celebrity status given that his works were featured in orchestral and operatic repertoire around the globe. Today his operas are amongst the most performed works by a 20th Century composer.

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