Thanks to the vagaries of PBS’s summer schedule, I finally achieved, in a manner of speaking, one of my long-time goals: I saw a staged performance of Capriccio, Richard Strauss’s last opera, written in 1941. I became aware of Capriccio about 1951. At that time, I was an avid seventeen-year-old record collector with a major concentration on the later operas of Richard Wagner. But in my Wagnerolatry I had room for Strauss as well. Born in 1864, Strauss, after all, had been dubbed “Richard the Second” by critics even before the turn of the century.[1] In the late 1940s, I had been immensely taken by Dimitri Mitropoulos’s hair-raising New York Philharmonic broadcast of Strauss’s Elektra (1906-8), with Astrid Varnay in the title role. This, I suppose, predisposed me to Strauss’s operatic rather than his orchestral music, and I was fortunate...


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