This article is from 2007

Strauss’ lively exposé of the relations between music and words

Richard Strauss’ final opera Capriccio, which received its premiere in 1942, is described by the composer as ‘a conversation piece for music’. A young countess cannot choose between two lovers, one a musician, the other a poet. As each tries to convince her that his art is the more important, they are joined in the debate by a glamorous actress and a theatre director among others.

‘The piece has an enormous contemporary interest,’ explains Cologne Opera director Christian von Götz. Written in the horrific throes of World War 2, and premiered on the day of the first deportation train from Theresienstadt concentration camp to Auschwitz, the historical context is important both to the composer and to von Götz’ interpretation.

‘It’s an ivory tower and Richard Strauss is in it,’ he says. ‘In the first part, everything happens in the ivory tower and in the second part it is destroyed. In a sense, the ivory tower is a little bit like a refuge.’

For Strauss’ characters, psychological survival is in that refuge, as opera takes on a life-and-death significance for them. (Carol Main)

Festival Theatre, Nicolson Street, 0131 473 2000, 28, 30 Aug, 1 Sep, 7.15pm, £10–£60.


Strauss's opera follows the journey of young widow Countess Madeleine who is torn between lovers and explores all matters of a confused heart. Sung in German with English subtitles, this spirited performance is led by soprano Gabriela Fontana. 'Part of the Edinburgh International Festival'