Continuing General Director Placido Domingo's resolve to bring cinematic production values to the operatic stage (William Friedkin and Franco Zeffirelli have directed past productions), Der Rosenkavalier boasts a director with a half-century's worth of film and stage chops, whose approach to the bittersweet comedy is grounded in a solid classical foundation with a sharp eye for the contemporary: Maximilian Schell. A then-unknown who whupped both Spencer Tracy and Paul Newman for the Best Actor Oscar (1961's Judgement At Nuremburg), Schell's resume ranges from a stereotype-shattering German-language Hamlet to cult status as the hirsute mad doctor of The Black Hole (it doesn't speak well of us as a culture that the latter is probably his best-known role among American filmgoers). Schell's directorial credits number far less than his acting, but include Oscar nominations for Best Foreign Language Film and Documentary- the latter being the superb tribute to Ms. Dietrich, Marlene (which, if you haven't seen, turn in your Gay Card now). His most recent film was last year's My Sister Maria, a sad and sweet valentine for his recently departed actress sister, Maria Schell. His next film, Goddess willing, will be a biopic of Beethoven with Placido Domingo, which, rumor has it, may also feature either-or both- John Malkovich and Eminem(!). The 74-year-old, straight-but-not-narrow Schell, who has played a gay character or two even when less secure actors ran away screaming from "queer" roles, views the implicit genderfuck of Der Rosenkavalier as an aspect of "the game-playing that goes on in love and lust" and avers that "We all have a little of both, female and male" (as quoted in the L.A. Times). Damn straight-so to speak.