WHAT IS FROM THE VAULT?
Every week, we're sharing a full-length video recording of a COC performance.
Captured by a camera situated in the soundbooth at the back of R. Fraser Elliott Hall, these videos are ordinarily never seen by the public –– they are technical tools rather than streamed performances, historical documents that record the technical and creative elements of a production for industry use.
In collaboration with our theatrical unions and the productions’ artistic teams, we are making these archival videos available as a token of our appreciation for all the support we have received from you, our COC community.
Nothing can replace the magical energy of a live performance. And rather than attempting to reproduce that experience, we wanted to offer something special and different: an opportunity to extend your appreciation of opera into a previously unseen world of behind-the-scenes footage.
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THIS WEEK'S ARCHIVAL RECORDING
R. Strauss' ARABELLA
Original performance date: October 14, 2017
This video is available for viewing until Wednesday, May 27, 11:59 p.m.
BY RICHARD STRAUSS
Lyric comedy in three acts
Libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal
First performance: Sächsisches Staatstheater, Dresden, July 1, 1933
Original COC performance date: October 14, 2017
Co-production with Santa Fe Opera and Minnesota Opera
Sung in German with English SURTITLES™
CAST & CREATIVE TEAM
(in order of vocal appearance)
|A Fortune Teller
|Zdenka, her daughter
|Matteo, a young officer
|Set and Costume Designer
|Arabella, Adelaide’s daughter
|Count Elemer, Arabella’s suitor
|Price Family Chorus Master Chair
|Count Waldner, Arabella’s father
|Assistant Stage Managers
|Mandryka, a landowner
|Welko, Mandryka’s servant
|Count Dominik, Arabella’s suitor
|Count Lamoral, Arabella’s suitor
Claire de Sévigné^
|Djura, Mandryka’s servant
Jane Archibald’s performance is generously sponsored by Jack Whiteside
Bruno Roy’s performance is generously sponsored by Catherine Fauquier
Sandra Horst and the COC Chorus are generously underwritten by Tim & Frances Price
D COC Debut
^ Graduate of COC Ensemble Studio
Though the libretto of Arabella was written in the late 1920s, it is based on a short story that Hofmannsthal had published before the First World War. And it is Vienna at that time of hedonistic triviality—with the looming cataclysm of the war that would destroy all the certainties of the Austro-Hungarian Empire—that Arabella captures.
It is carnival day. Two young sisters face having their emotional futures sacrificed to their parents’ financial desperation. Arabella must choose a husband from one of three aristocratic suitors before the evening’s ball. And her younger sister Zdenka has to live her life disguised as a boy because her parents lack the money to clothe her and bring her out into society, tortured all the while by a hidden love of her own.
Arabella encapsulates within herself the dilemma of the longing for financial security, not only for her but her whole family, pitted against the desire for romantic freedom. She loves fun, beautiful things, the adoration of men, everything that money can offer; but she also feels an emptiness, knowing instinctively that life and love can and should be something more.
Then Mandryka arrives from the country—unsophisticated, totally unconcerned with fashion or the opinions of others, fully content ruling benevolently over his country estates as a kind of Austrian Tolstoy, rooted in his beloved countryside. Arabella immediately recognizes that, unlike anyone she has ever met, he is utterly his own person; that together, away from the world, they will be complete “for all time and eternity.”
Of course Arabella is a romance, so, conveniently, Mandryka has inherited the enormous wealth necessary to support the rural idyll that Arabella chooses. But beneath the charming improbabilities of the plot and the entrancing lyrical outpourings of Strauss’ music, lies the endlessly fascinating question: “What is the good life?” Does the craving for money and status distort what is real and authentic in human relationships? Is there a harmony in the natural world that we have lost as we hurtle ever faster into the future?
Tim Albery, 2017
Financially strapped but aristocratically entitled, the Waldners have raised their younger daughter, Zdenka, as a boy to cut the cost of her upbringing – at least until her beautiful older sister is married. Posing as their son, “Zdenko,” the girl wards off creditors as her mother consults a fortuneteller, who predicts an advantageous marriage for Zdenka’s sister, Arabella. The young officer Matteo enlists his friend “Zdenko’s” help in courting Arabella; it’s that or suicide, he insists.
Arabella is being pursued by many other suitors. Three – Counts Elemer, Dominik and Lamoral – have left gifts for her. Zdenka, who secretly loves Matteo, urges her to consider him, but Arabella feels that when the right candidate appears, she’ll know. Count Elemer calls on Arabella to go sleigh riding; as she leaves to change her outfit, she alerts Zdenka to a stranger peering up from the street below. Their father, Count Waldner, returns, upset by his many creditors and continuing bad luck at cards. But no sooner has he told his wife of his latest stratagem – sending a letter and photo of Arabella to his wealthy old army friend Mandryka – than a caller also named Mandryka is announced. Nephew of the elder, now deceased Mandryka, he has read the letter to his uncle and fallen in love with Arabella’s photograph. Now he has journeyed from his rich estates in Slavonia to the Waldners’ hotel suite in Vienna solely to lend Count Waldner money and seek his daughter’s hand in marriage.
Unaware of this bright new prospect, Arabella is despondent, wondering why no suitor seems right, and knowing that she has promised her parents to choose one of them by the end of the Coachman’s ball that evening; perhaps the ball will brighten her mood. She leaves with Zdenka for their sleigh ride.
At the Coachman’s Ball, Count Waldner introduces Mandryka to the Countess and Arabella; recognizing him as the stranger she noticed earlier, Arabella is instantly drawn to him. Mandryka feels confirmed in his earlier feelings and confides in her, describing his estates, his young wife’s death, and his country’s tradition of pledging troth with a glass of water – a symbol of purity. Arabella reciprocates his love, but wants to stay and enjoy the Ball as a last celebration of youth. When she is named its queen, Mandryka is thrilled and lavishes champagne and flowers on the attendees as Arabella bids farewell to her past suitors. Amid the heightened gaiety she does not notice the desperate Matteo seeking some sign of her affection – or Zdenka, who presses a key into his hand, saying it is from Arabella and is the key to her bedroom. Inevitably, Mandryka overhears; disillusioned and angry, he abandons himself to wine-soaked recklessness until Count Waldner calms him and they return to the hotel.
Arabella returns from the ball unaware that Matteo has been in her bedroom, ostensibly with her. Only the absent Zdenka knows the truth. As Matteo tries to slip from the hotel unnoticed, he is baffled to find Arabella already in the lobby, cool and unresponsive; Mandryka, judging the situation as he arrives with the Waldners, cannot believe Arabella’s innocence and urges the Count to demand satisfaction from Matteo. Finally Zdenka rushes in from upstairs. She confesses giving herself to Matteo to prevent his suicide, and now, wracked by guilt, considers her own. But she is immediately forgiven by her parents and embraced by Matteo. Arabella and Mandryka are left alone together. Arabella asks him to have a glass of water sent to her room and then she, too, leaves. Mandryka is racked with guilt; how will she feel about him now after he failed to trust her? Reappearing at the top of the stairs with her dignity intact and the water glass in her hand, Arabella rapturously reaffirms her love and their engagement.
Courtesy of Santa Fe Opera
Banner image: Erin Wall as Arabella in Arabella (COC, 2017): photo: Michael Cooper.