That's not our Sophe, La Sarina, who is ALWAYS of the moment (read her very moving latest blogpost about how her father's fellow Swedish woodsmen chipped in to fund the annual trachoma operations she organises in rural Mali), but the latest singer stepping in to portray Strauss and Hofmannsthal's Mamsell Sophie Anna Barbara Faninal. Louise Alder*, pictured as Clomiri in Imeneo for the London Handel Festival, wouldn't quite dress like that for the demure but spirited teenager, unless of course Richard Jones had wanted to go one stage further for her on-the-table humiliation in a male chauvinist bidding war.
Louise has only just graduated from the very Royal College of Music where I'm talking very soon (at 4.45, to be precise, to be edited for the interval on BBC Radio 3) with Sara Mohr-Pietsch and Hugo Shirley before the Glyndebourne Rosenkavalier hits the Proms in a semi-staged performance. She stunned us in the cover performances of the Presentation of the Rose and the Trio in the Study Day I had the joy to take part in down at the house. It's a shame that Teodora Gheorghiu is indisposed but, lovely actress though she was, I fear the voice might have been a size too small for the Albert Hall. Let's have another shot of Gheorghiu in the show with Tara Erraught before the wig change (the audience tonight will see what a lovely colleen Erraught really is). More on the Marianne Leitmetzerin in a moment. Both Glyndebourne production photos by Bill Cooper.
La Alder will shine tonight, be sure of that, like I've seen Lucy Crowe, Lisa Milne and Marie Arnet do before her. Crowe and Arnet actually stole the show in the full performances I saw, or rather alongside Peter Rose's Ochs in LC's case.
There's another replacement: Lars Woldt, a superlative Ochs, is also indisposed and so today superseded by another, Franz Hawlata (pictured below in what I thought was a Rosenkav production picture, but the fashion-magazine advertisement behind him makes me wonder). He was so effortlessly commanding in the Birmingham concert performance that he can't fail to amuse tonight given a bit more directorial help.
I feel sorry that Woldt doesn't get another shot at captivating a large audience, as he did, of course, in the livestreamed film. Here he is once more with Kate Royal's Marschallin in Dietrich mode.
Does it sound disloyal of me to say I wish Royal's cover, too, could have a shot at the Marschallin tonight? Miranda Keys, again on the evidence of the cover performance, would make an opulent Prima Donna. She manages her moment in the sun as the Duenna, too (that's her on the left in the picture further up). She may pop along to the talk, which is good of her, and I hope she'll help us field any more boring Taragate questions (no, audience, please don't).
Finally, another Sophie - a real one, this time, Austrian Sophie Rennert, who stole the show with her interpretation, in flawless English, of Dido's Lament at the Europe Day Concert organised by J (and programmed, to an extent, by me, though this wasn't one of my suggestions for the Greek theme, as Greek it ain't) . Now that it's out on CD, we were able to confirm that there actually isn't a more poised and stylish version anywhere, though since the piece tests the personality of the singer, there are quite a few as good in their own ways. But of course we're talking Baker, Norman, von Otter, so for a young singer to be in that league is really something. Dominic Wheeler, also my suggestion, draws wondrously beautiful and authentic-sounding playing from the European Community Youth Orchestra, too.
Postlude: I've scattered remarks about the results of the Proms Rosenkavalier around the comments, but let's just say that it was very hard work to home in on the fine detail from where I was sitting. The Albert Hall may be good for Wagnerian epic, but not for Straussian comedy done at Ticciati's and Jones's level of sophistication. The real problem was that they chose to reheat a very tight production instead of adapting completely to a Proms semi-staging (as used to happen with Glyndebourne's annual visits).
Though the voices which carried best were Michael Kraus as Faninal and Andrej Dunaev's Italian tenor, Erraught and Royal were splendidly energised, Hawlata went through his own paces which seemed to bear no relation to anyone else's - he was relaxed, but I sorely missed Woldt - and Alder began a bit nervously but went on to make wonderful sounds towards the end. Here she is in one of Chris Christodoulou's photos being 'horse-dealt' chez Faninal to the aghastness of Erraught's Octavian as well as the indifference of both Sir Henry Wood and Ochs's bastard son Leopold (Joseph Bader).
*Recent news: Louise was the recipient of this year's John Christie Award. As predecessors include her Marschallin, Kate Royal, Gerald Finley and Allan Clayton, she's deservedly in very good company