This beautiful, if at times erratic, Rosenkavalier from 1965 is among the latest releases in Glyndebourne's archive series. It takes a while to get going, so don't be put off by John Pritchard's unerotic account of the prelude and his lukewarm conducting of the opening of Act One: it's not until Montserrat Caballé's Marschallin becomes conscious of the nature of time and mutability that the performance starts to get under your skin. Thereafter it proves utterly compelling, particularly in the final scenes where Pritchard's judgment of the crucial balance between laughter and tears is immaculate. Caballé's presence might surprise some, but she was always a fine Straussian and there are some exquisite things here, above all, the nostalgia and regret at the close of act one and the rapturous way she launches the Trio. Teresa Zylis‑Gara is the glamorous sounding Octavian, Edith Mathis the very knowing, if occasionally effortful Sophie. There's a very fine Ochs from Otto Edelmann, too. Be warned that the sound quality dips in act three – you can still hear swishing from the original acetates – though not enough to detract from the impact of it all.
Tim Ashley is a Guardian classical and opera critic, though he's also keen on literature and philosophy so you might sometimes find him cross-referencing all three. His work has also appeared in Literary Review and Opera magazine and he is author of a biography of Richard Strauss