Richard Strauss [1864 – 1949]

About the performance

At first glance von Hofmannsthal’s ARABELLA libretto presents a comedy of errors which, in the hands of a Rossini, could have ended up as a peppy opera buffa. But with Richard Strauss composing and drawing on the full breadth of his art, ranging from waves of Late Romantic opulence to up-to-the-minute disharmony, the result is a colourful and nuanced panorama of a society in a state of upheaval and late bourgeois decadence. Identities and interpersonal relations are being subjected to a stress test. More so than the eponymous character, who is dithering between romance and revolt, it is Arabella’s younger sister Zdenka who is central to the story and who, dressed in male clothes by her parents who cannot afford feminine finery for two daughters, has to struggle all the more tenaciously with her/his role as a figure on the margins.

Director Tobias Kratzer and team milk each of the chopping and changing characters for ways in which to explore societal roles of yesteryear and issues of modern identity. Their finely detailed production, which uses cinematic virtuality to contrast, complement and comment on the onstage action, is designed to allow the spectator to appreciate the opera’s musical richness while switching without warning between the dual perspectives of social norms and confused private thoughts. With ARABELLA, Tobias Kratzer continues a collaboration with Sir Donald Runnicles that began in 2019 with their much feted production of Zemlinsky’s THE DWARF.


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