Der Resenkavalier, Lustspiel or libretto
Skrotzky, Sonja Augusta
Master of Arts
Undoubtedly, Der Rosenkavalier holds an esteemed position in the standard operatic repentoire. Unfortunately, the general public thinks of it only as that: an opera. In recent years, several endeavours have been made to establish Hugo von Hofmannsthal"s Der Rosenkavalier as an artwork of literature. The most notable contribution towards this end has been Emil Staiger's "Der 'Rosenkavalier' als Dichtung" (Universitas, 1950). After reading this article I have made an attempt to prove that Der Rosenkavalier can hold its own as a Lustspiel without the benefit of Richard Strauss' orchestral score. From the genius of Hofmannsthal emerges a text filled with traditional splendor, comic elements, and psychological motives. Chapter I deals with the planning of the comedy and the beginning of the famous Hofmannsthal-Strauss collaboration. The second part of this chapter is devoted to an analysis of general comic elements found in the text and ranging from the comedia dell' arte to the slap-stick comedy of the 20th century. Through finesse and delicacy the Lustsoiel shows a universal appeal which delights not only the naive audience but the intellectual sophisticate as well. The second chapter proves why Der Rosenkavalier is not a libretto in the traditional sense but a comedy in its own right. The poet parades before us characterizations, mannerisms, situations and language, found in 18th century Vienna under the rule of Maria Theresa. But Hofmannsthal's genius does not limit itself to the self-evident scenes, props, and dialogues, it goes deeply into historical detail and theatrical heritage. The whole of these ingredients gives us a work which does not have any need of musical accompaniment in order to lift it to the realm of prominence in comedy. It is thus that we are able to say that this is not a traditional libretto but a Lustspiel that elevates itself to success by its own merits.