The epic grandeur of Der Rosenkavalier stems not just from its immense length (over three hours) but from the all-too-human complexity of its characters–each of whom is smitten with someone else–and the endless stream of graceful melodies the composer conjures. After the tonality-stretching dissonance of Salome and especially Elektra, Strauss moved onto a different musical path here: the music's sheer gorgeousness has given this most heartbreaking of 20th-century operas its pride of place in the repertory.
The creation of Daphne was not a simple affair, especially for what concerned the poetic text (due to the modest talent of the librettist Joseph Gregor), but on 15th October 1938 the opera was finally premièred at Dresden’s Staatstheater. On the podium was the young conductor Karl Böhm. Daphne is a masterpiece of early 20th-century vocal music. Structured in a single act, this opera is a solid work with a rich musical vein. Strauss’s orchestration appears, as always, remarkably refined. The vocal writing is demanding for all the main characters, but especially so for the protagonist, here interpreted by a magnificent June Anderson. Filmed in high definition at Venice’s La Fenice, the present production is directed by Paul Curran.
Others have praised this Covent Garden Salome for its dramatic impact, and with good cause. The direcotr, Luc Bondy, has translated the opera into tortured terms that the painter Egon Schiele would recognize; the sexuality is masochistic, frenzied, and self-destructive. John the Baptist is no solemn stick of wood – Bryn Terfel makes him as agonized and writhing as Salome herself. But the brunt of the Expressionist labor falls on the cat-like Malfitano, whose descent into madness is neither campy nor stagey. She's a great actress, and she adapts to the stylized movements straight out of Nosferatu with total conviction. (Only the opening scene is weak, since her girlish figure can't completely disguise that she is considerably too old to be the Judean princess.)… By Santa Fe Listener
One of the very best records The Cleveland Orchestra made with late George Szell… marvelous orchestral playing and exhilarating excitement – The Gramophone
Karajan gives his soprano incandescent support and the playing, needless to say, is superb. This is a 'must' for all Straussians, and surely for many others.' - Alan Blyth, Gramophone
Sinopoli interpretations of these two Strauss tone poems are magnificent and are recorded with clarity. What I find most impressive is the way Sinopoli approaches a score as if it were a brand-new document waiting to be brought to life. - Gramophone