Zur Oper am 18. Januar 1967 in London

Daily Telegraph, London, 20. Januar 1967

Opera Revival

 English Arabella with full-voiced singing

"Teschek bedien dich," says Mandryka, the rich young squire from Slavonia, as he offers his bulging wallet to the seedy Count Waldner, whose daughter he hopes to marry – "Please help yourself."

Not the happiest line Hofmannsthal ever penned or Strauss has set, yet it served Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau well during the revival of "Arabella" at Covent Garden.

There were chuckles, and by no means only because during this spirited duet with his prospective in-law, Michael Langdon, he had accidentally dropped the lot on the floor and picked them all up again, vocalising imperturbably as if to symbolise his consummate virtuosity.

The warmth and goodness that emanated from his mellifluous baritone, even in anger, never turned imbecilic as Strauss had feared it might.

Only his attempts at a Slav-accent lagged behind the miraculous Viennese of Mr. Langdon, a delightfully discreet super-Ochs.


Joan Carlyle’s eagerly awaited Arabella, perfectly intoned, deserved her friendly reception. She produced many a full-voiced top note and some exquisite highlying piano lines.

Nonetheless she could be a little severe and her restricted characterisation did not quite bear out the great expectations, aroused by her last year’s Zdenka.

In this implausible 1860 trouser role Elizabeth Robson was plausible and sympathetic enough but she made rather little of the troubles encountered by a transvestite contre coeur. Her Matteo, Alexander Young, emerges suitably embarrassed on finding that it was not her sister who, in period parlance, had given herself to him.

Elizabeth Harwood dealt effectively if none too alluringly with the Fiaker Milli’s coloraturas, one of the several features that Strauss has brought off so much better in earlier works.

I rather liked the straightforward, resilient Mama Adelaide of Anna Reynolds. A continual joy was the way the Straussian non-stop tease was being propelled forward by Georg Solti, smoothly and as if on rubber wheels. How marvellously well his players know this score.

Rudolf Hartmann’s production is outstandingly skilful and I much admired the inspired kitsch of Peter Rice’s scenery and costumes.

Peter Stadlen

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