Capriccio was Richard Strauss’ final opera, written during composer’s ‘Indian summer’ when he was 78-years-old and was first performed in 1942 in Munich during World War Two. As operatic plots go, the storyline is simple: the author Olivier and the composer Flamand battle for the affections of a beguiling Countess, each arguing that their own art form is superior and that they therefore are more deserving of the same woman’s affections. Their muse is performed by Cheryl Barker, Australia’s internationally renowned soprano, who is stunning in her role as the Countess. Andrew Brunsdon’s voice as Flamand is sublimely balanced by Michael Lewis as Olivier, though the latter is perhaps older and less dashing than the libretto calls for. The highlight of the opera comes in the first act, after Flamand has set Olivier’s sonnet to music. The tenor, the baritone and the soprano weave a sublime musical tapestry. While the second half is perhaps longer than need be, Barker’s final 2o minute soliloquy is well worth the wait. The spectacular cast is complimented by Conal Coad as La Roche, the wily theatre director and Christopher Tonkin as the Countess’ dashing younger brother. Set in Paris in the 192os, the period costumes and the lovely rotating art deco set serve as a perfect setting for this rarely performed opera.
Until Jul 27, Sydney Opera House, $95-280, 9318 8200, opera-australia.org.au