Time is a strange thing. If you just live your life, it’s absolutely nothing. But then, all of a sudden, it’s all you notice.
The mystery of time resonates throughout Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s highly spiritual and nostalgia-filled libretto, for which Richard Strauss – known until then as the avant-garde composer of Salome and Elektra – took a step back in time to the Vienna of the 18th century. Waltzing in neoclassical style, with sublime vocal lyricism and a refined orchestral palette, this work looks from a Mozartian perspective, but with psychoanalytic precision, at the universality of love and at humankind in all its grandeur and pettiness. Director Damiano Michieletto sets this contemplation of the human psyche in a dreamworld, while Strauss’s wonderful score – one of the most refined in the entire repertoire – can fully blossom in the hands of conductor Alain Altinoglu.