Artistic Director Otaka Tadaaki (2010/2011 season) has a special fondness for the late German romantics. This production from 2007 is by the great British opera director, Jonathan Miller. Whereas the historical backdrop of the original version is that of 18th century Vienna at the height of aristocratic culture, this one is set in 1912. What the two versions have in common is that in both, the opera's characters – and the composer and the librettist – live in a time in which dark clouds gather overhead, as their societies brace for war. The field marshal's wife is a sagacious woman. She sings of how she wants to stop the clock. She sings of her resignation toward breaking up with her young lover, and the relentless march of time as we age, but she also senses the way that the world on the whole is changing.
The Marschallin (field marshal's wife) is dallying with her lover, the young count Octavian, while the field marshal is away. It comes about that Octavian is asked to deliver a silver rose to the Sophie, the fiancée of Baron Ochs (the Marschallin's cousin) as a token of the Baron's engagement-but the young couple fall in love at first sight. Ochs challenges Octavian to a duel, but ends up making an immense fuss when he is barely scratched; meanwhile, he is duped by a phony love letter delivered to him by Octavian in women's clothing, and in the end his engagement to Sophie is broken off. The Marschallin sees the love of the young couple and as she makes her exit, gives them her blessing.