Duchess Werdenberg has an affair with young Octavian. When her cousin Baron Ochs sends Octavian as matchmaker to Faninal, Octavian falls in love with the future bride Sophie. In the end, the baron, who is only interested in the financial advantage that a marriage to Sophie will bring him, gets outwitted by the lovers. The Duchess renounces love.
Richard Strauss‘ "comedy for music" had its world premiere in 1911. The opera is set amongst the contradicting attitudes that result from the “fin de siècle” atmosphere at the turn of the 20th century and the musical delight that is finely expressed by the "Viennese waltz". The opera narrates a story of peoples' dreams and farewells – and of the necessity for everybody to having to confront the timeless fear of old age and decay.