Celebrating Strauss


The decadent, biblical Salome (1905) and the monumental Elektra (1909) shook the world of opera like twin thunderclaps. (They still do.) Der Rosenkavalier (1911), scented with Persian attar in a silver rose, had audiences delirious with belated tin-de-siècle nostalgia. (It still does.) The world at large has been content to pass by Richard Strauss’s later operas, thus missing much junk and some treasures. The San Francisco Opera’s celebration of Strauss this month features the enduring Salome and Der Rosenkavalier. and the exquisitely wrought Caprieeio (1942). starring Kiri Te Kanawa as the Countess who cannot decide whether she loves poetry or music most. The company also offers a concert version of Daphne (1938). and good luck to them. In a disregard ol realities so flagrant as to amount to a death wish, that score calls for two leading tenors. Fortunately, the soprano has the final word, a rapturous monologue in which she changes into a tree.