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Capriccio

Richard Strauss 1864-1949

A dramatized conversation piece in one act
Libretto by Clemens Krauss & Richard Strauss
First performed October 28 1942, Nationaltheater, Munich

Performed in German with English & German surtitles
ca. 2 hours 45 minutes, including 1 interval
an introductory talk, in German, begins in the upstairs foyer 30 minutes before every performance  

In the middle of World War II, 78 year old Richard Strauss wrote a charming discourse à »l'art pour l'art«, and called it Capriccio. His last work for the stage is a so called »conversation piece for music« in which artists and aristocrats, including Gräfin Madeleine, and her two admirers - the composer Flamand and poet Olivier - ponder over the relationship between music and word in opera, in light-footed parlando style, with wit and ferocity - and love. Strauss appears to have taken up a thread again that he began to spin thirty years earlier in Ariadne auf Naxos. To the sceptics among us who say »Now, in 1942?« Strauss seemed to reply: »Now even more!« because his opera, which was originally dressed in Parisienne rococo clothing from 1775, is not the ignorant creation of an escapist, it formulates the timeless postulate of an art form which helps make it more possible to bear the world.

The inspiration for the work, the libretto for which was written by his friend Clemens Krauss (whose posts included being Intendant of Oper Frankfurt from 1924-1929), was the text in Antonio Salieri's Prima la musica – poi le parole. He might have won a contest with this work against the Schauspieldirektor by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, one of the composers alongside Richard Wagner that Strauss constantly looked back to in awe. In Capriccio he combined the style elements of his two compositional fixed stars with, in happy melancholy mood, the elements at the centre of the discussion: word and music.