World Premiere - Der Rosenkavalier

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While Strauss was still working on his "Elektra," Hugo von Hofmannsthal, his librettist, wrote him concerning "the scenario for an opera, full of burlesque situations and characters, with lively action, pellucid almost like a pantomime .... It contains two big parts, one for baritone and another for a graceful girl dressed up as a man, a la [Geraldine] Farrar or Mary Garden. Period: the old Vienna under the Empress Maria Theresa." Strauss began composing the untitled opera as quickly as the text was made available to him. On 4 May 1909, Strauss wrote Hofmannsthal, "All the characters are grand: drawn with clear outlines. Unfortunately, I'll need very good actors again; the ordinary operatic singers won't do." What was born in Dresden on 26 Jan 1911 was an explosion of rich music, sometimes vulgar, sometimes playful, and clearly definitive of the Viennese period it represents. On the negative side, the opera has staging "bumps" and lengthy conversations, but no one can doubt the brilliance of the score and the liveliness of the characterizations. Strauss wanted to name the opera "Ochs von Lerchenau" because he enjoyed the pompous but lovable character, but Hofmannsthal objected. It was Strauss's wife who allegedly put the differences over the title to rest: "Der Rosenkavalier" it became..
Strauss front and center, Hofmannsthal behind him with the moustache.
The cast included Margarethe Siems as the Marschallin, Minnie Nast as Sophie, Eva von der Osten as Octavian, Karl Perron as Ochs, Karl Scheidemantel as Faninal, and Fritz Soot as the Italian singer. These images were taken during dress rehearsals and/or staging before the premiere. Some of the images are “studio shots” taken before backdrops. The earilest images are the ones published in 1910 by Herzfeld, which were taken on the stage. Rosenkavalier postcards can be found with anther imprint, Hugo Erfurth, who was well-known for his celebrity photographs. I’ve have seen other postcards from the premiere: one of Karl Scheidemantel as Faninal and another of Siems reclining on a sofa. Surely several others exist considering the absence of any Baron Ochs images. In the trio image (3rd row far left) you can see four double basses propped up against the stage, the orchestra clearly not involved during the photography session.
  Nast                     Siems               von der Osten       von der Osten               Nast
 Siems               von der Osten
 von der Osten and Siems                 Nast and von der Osten
 Nast, von der Osten, Siems            Nast, Perron, von der Osten
von der Osten   and Siems