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SFO Der Rosenkavalier Illustration copyright Benedetto Cristofani

Der Rosenkavalier

July 20 - August 15, 2024

Love. Lust. Devotion. Aging.

In the decadent world of Vienna, a story of romantic entanglements unfolds between a youthful nobleman, his mature mistress, and a young woman engaged to be married to an older Baron. Who is to give in or give up their heart?

Music By
Richard Strauss
Libretto By
Hugo von Hofmannsthal
A co-production with Garsington Opera and Irish National Opera
Sung In
Instant Translation Screen
English and Spanish
Production support generously provided by
The Estate of James R. Seitz, Jr.
The Jane & Arthur T. Stieren, Jr. Endowment Fund, in memory of Arthur T. Stieren, Jr.
Additional artistic support provided by
Miranda & David Lind
The performances of Karina Canellakis are supported by
Susan Esco Chandler and Alfred D. Chandler
The performances of Paula Murrihy are supported by
Friends of Richard Strauss Operas
The performances of Ying Fang are supported by
The Peter B. Frank Principal Artist Fund
Run Time
Approximately 4 hours 10 minutes; includes a 25-minute intermission and a 20-minute intermission

Act I

Vienna. The Marschallin, Princess von Werdenberg, and the young Octavian, Count Rofrano, rise regretfully from her bed, where they have spent the night. At a sound in the hallway – perhaps the Marschallin’s husband – Octavian hides and disguises himself as a chambermaid. The Marschallin’s cousin, Baron Ochs auf Lerchenau, enters asking her whether she has given thought to his letter, in which he asked her to choose a Rosenkavalier – Knight of the Rose – to take the customary silver symbol to the woman Ochs has decided to marry, Sophie, the daughter of the very wealthy and recently ennobled Herr von Faninal. She suggests Octavian and shows Ochs his picture. Ochs cannot help but see the resemblance to “Mariandel,” the maid, whom he shamelessly pursues.

The Marschallin holds her morning levée, during which she is addressed by an animal vendor, a milliner, three noble orphans, and two Italian scandalmongers, and sung to by an Italian tenor. Ochs browbeats the notary into drawing up a marriage contract. Losing his temper, he interrupts the tenor’s song. The Marschallin sends everyone away, but not before Ochs has left her with the silver rose – and engaged the intriguers, Valzacchi and Annina, to secure him an assignation with “Mariandel.” The Marschallin muses on the passing of time.

Octavian returns, dressed as himself, and notes the Marschallin’s melancholy mood. She assures him he will leave her for a younger woman. He naturally protests, and she sends him away. When she realizes they have parted without a goodbye kiss, she sends her footman after him, but he has already ridden away. She calls her page to take the rose to him.

Act II

Faninal’s salon. Sophie waits excitedly with her duenna, Marianne. Octavian brings the rose to Sophie and both are smitten. The real suitor enters and Sophie is appalled by the Baron’s rude manners. Ochs goes into an adjoining room with the notary and Sophie and Octavian agree that she must not marry Ochs. As they move to embrace, they are caught by Valzacchi and Annina, who call for the Baron. Octavian challenges him to a duel and wounds him lightly on the arm, at which Ochs shouts bloody murder.

He is cheered when left to rest with a bandage and Faninal’s wine. Annina returns with a note inviting him to a rendezvous with “Mariandel” that evening. He accepts with delight but does not tip her.


A room in an inn. Octavian, now helped by Annina and Valzacchi, sets a stageworthy scene for the confounding of Ochs. The Baron and “Mariandel” soon meet for a private supper, but strange figures appear from trap doors and windows, making Ochs think he sees ghosts. Suddenly a woman dressed in mourning bursts from a blind window, claiming to be Ochs’s deserted wife. It is Annina in disguise, followed by a herd of children screaming, “Papa!” The innkeeper and servants rush in. Finally Ochs calls the police, and claims that “Mariandel” is his fiancée Sophie. Faninal arrives, furious, and sends for the real Sophie. At the height of the confusion, the Marschallin appears. The Police Commissary recognizes her – he was once her husband’s orderly–and she easily explains that this was all a farce. She insists that Ochs leave Vienna, and he does, pursued by Annina and the children, the innkeeper, and his creditors. Now the Marschallin is left with undecided Octavian and anxious Sophie. The day she predicted has come. Quietly she leaves them alone together.

Rachel Willis Sorensen

Rachel Willis-Sørensen



Matthew Rose

Matthew Rose


Baron Ochs

Paula Murrihy headshot

Paula Murrihy



Ying Fang headshot

Ying Fang


Sophie (through August 8)

Liv Redpath headshot

Liv Redpath


Sophie (August 15)

Zachary Nelson headshot

Zachary Nelson



David Portillo headshot

David Portillo


Italian Singer

Gerhard Siegel

Gerhard Siegel



Megan Marino headshot

Megan Marino



Scott Conner

Scott Conner


Police Commissar

Karina Canellakis

Karina Canellakis


Bruno Ravella

Bruno Ravella


Gary McCann headshot

Gary McCann

Scenic & Costume Designer

Malcolm Rippeth

Malcolm Rippeth

Lighting Designer


2024 Season Playlist