Tuesday, September 22, 2009

From the director of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari... Der Rosenkavalier (with musical accompaniment by the Houston Symphony)

Six years after he mesmerized audiences with the expressionistic fantasia of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919), director Robert Weine, a giant of German silent cinema, tried his hand at adapting Richard Strauss' popular opera Der Rosenkavalier. That he was working at a slight disadvantage -- he was making a silent movie version of, uh, an opera -- didn't impede his efforts at all. Indeed, Weine threw himself into the project with sufficient zeal to convince the opera's librettist, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, to write the screenplay. (Well, OK, he wrote the title cards -- but you get the idea.) But wait, there's more: After seeing the film, Strauss was moved to recompose and adapt his own opera score into a film score. He even converted the vocal arrangements into arrangements that various instruments could play. This marrying of the reconstituted score to the silent movie was finally premiered at the Königliches Opernhaus in Dresden on January 10, 1926, under the direction of the legendary Max Reinhardt.

For decades, Weine's Der Rosenkavalier was considered a "lost film." The good news is, it recently was restored by film preservationists. The better news -- if you're anywhere near Houston this weekend -- is that Der Rosenkavalier -- Film and Music will have its North American premiere Friday through Sunday, Sept. 25-27, at Jones Hall in Downtown Houston, with the esteemed Houston Symphony, conducted by Hans Graf, offering accompaniment. You can order your tickets here.

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