The clip on the Times's site is great only in Ms Fleming's performance, which raises her in my esteem considerably. The conductor lets it get messy by taking too deliberate a pace, so the vocal lines get lost completely and the three soliloquies occurring simultaneously lose the distinctness they need to keep all from becoming just a gorgeous blur -- it's gorgeous, but the feelings get lost.
In today's NY Times, Daniel J. Wakin has a piece on Rosenkavalier, opening at the Met This Tuesday (Oct. 13), with an HD/Live simulcast of the performance on January 9 with encore on January 27. Watkins writes about a few moments right before the conclusion of the opera:
And now time, that relentless pursuer, stops. The three female voices -- Octavian, Sophie and the Marschallin-- sing the glorious trio thata caused a stunned silence in a rehearsal before the premiere. perhaps the most beautiful five minutes in opera.
This brought me back immediately to my much-loved recording of Rosenkavalier highlights, with Elisabeth Schwartzkopf and Christa Ludwig singing with a Sophie whose name I cannot recall. "Beautiful," of course, is a subjective term. I'm not even sure that I know what it means to me anymore, when I use it.
To a teenager, this part of Rosenkavalier certainly was the "most beautiful" singing I'd ever heard or could imagine. (And that final "Ja, ja" from the Marschallin, a little later on. !!!!!). Decades afterward, I don't know whether I still would call it the "most beautiful", but I honestly don't know what I'd prefer today if I had only 5 minutes of listening time before the Final Silence came upon me.
Any ideas about what the "most beautiful five minutes in opera" really are? Or would you go with Wakin?
The article (linked here) includes audio clips from the dress rehearsal.