“Rosenkavalier” as a silent movie
Members of the Berliner Philharmoniker
Raphael Haeger Conductor
Der Rosenkavalier – Silent Movie directed by Robert Wiene (1925/26), Music by Richard Strauss in an arrangement for salon orchestra
Sun, 24 Jan 2016 6 p.m.
Philharmonie | Introduction: 5:00 pm
Serie Non-subscription concert chamber music
A highlight for film and opera lovers: members of the Berliner Philharmoniker conducted by Raphael Haeger will accompany the performance of Robert Wiene’s silent movie version of the Rosenkavalier from 1925-26. Anyone who may think he’ll be seeing Richard Strauss’s successful opera as a film would be wrong – because the film adaptation is an artwork on its own. The idea for it came from the writer and librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal, who was originally looking for a way to interest an audience that was not comfortable with opera in the Rosenkavalier. He drafted a prologue intended to make people curious about the story of the opera. But the director Robert Wiene declined this concept: though he did take several motifs from Hofmannsthal’s exposé, he placed the focus on the actual story of the opera. The greatest challenge was that the protagonists could express themselves only in gestures, not by singing. Unlike in the opera, characterization could be shown only through the acting.
Richard Strauss took this situation into account when he composed the film music using themes from the opera. Robert Wiene – Strauss wrote – had “when staging the work already taken the work’s musical side into account, staging the individual scenes under the sounds of the Rosenkavalier music and thus to a certain extent transferring the rhythm of the music to the rhythm of the gestures.” In order not to impede an American filming of the Rosenkavalier, all copies of the German film were withdrawn from circulation in 1929. Since being re-discovered and reconstructed in film in the 1950s, the Rosenkavalier film has been an impressive and also exciting testimony to the transformation of opera into another visual medium.