Der Rosenkavalier

Approximate Running Time: 4 hours and 20 minutes, with 2 intermissions

In German with English captions

What's Going On?

Vienna, 1740s

The Marschallin is in love with Octavian, a much younger man. She knows, despite all his protestations of love,that Octavian will some day leave her for a younger woman.

The Marschallin’s cousin Baron Ochs von Lerchenau comes from the country to pay a visit. He wants to marry Sophie von Faninal, the daughter of a wealthy bourgeois. But even as Ochs is preparing to woo Sophie for her dowry, he is also chasing Mariandel, a chamber maid that Ochs spies in the Marschallin’s boudoir. However, Mariandel is really Octavian in disguise—the young man dressed up as a maid to avoid being caught by Ochs in the Marschallin’s bedroom, which would cause a scandal.

When Ochs asks the Marschallin which cavalier could present Sophie with the silver engagement rose, she suggests the handsome Octavian.

When Octavian presents the silver rose to Sophie, the pair are instantly smitten with each other. Neither can bear that Sophie will be wed to the crude Baron Ochs. Octavian challenges the Baron to a duel, but Sophie’s father, Herr von Faninal, breaks up the fight and denounces Octavian, banishing him from the house and threatening Sophie with confinement in a nunnery if she doesn’t marry Ochs.

The quick-witted Octavian comes up with a plan to break Sophie’s engagement and enlists the aid of two spies, Valzacchi and Annina. A letter from Mariandel is sent to Ochs, summoning the amorous Baron to a tête-à-tête at an inn outside of town.

At the inn, Ochs arrives for a private supper, but Octavian’s co-conspirators quickly turn the flirtation into a farce. Annina arrives, with members of the hotel staff and policemen in tow, to denounce Ochs as her errant husband. The befuddled Ochs claims Mariandel as his legitimate fiancée, only to be overheard by Sophie and her father (also summoned to the inn to watch Ochs’ downfall). Octavian slips out of his Mariandel disguise and reappears as a gentleman. By now, everyone is shouting at everyone.

The Marschallin, summoned by one of Ochs’ servants, sweeps in and has the baron renounce Sophie. She convinces all involved that the evening has been only a harmless Viennese masquerade. The Marschallin then reassures the abashed Octavian that his new love has her blessing and presents him formally to Sophie.

Sophie and Octavian proclaim their love for each other. Herr von Faninal, resigned to his daughter’s new engagement, tells the Marschallin that young people just do fall in love quickly and she quietly agrees. The older adults depart and leave Octavian and Sophie alone together.

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