Andrew Litton's recording of Der Rosenkavalier is a reminder, if one were needed, of the outstanding quality of the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra and the high caliber of performances at the Sydney Opera House. The opera starts out a little stiffly, and the opening scene doesn't quite achieve the richly luxuriant atmosphere that it can have, but Litton and the orchestra loosen up quickly and the rest of the performance is lilting and exuberant. Catherine Carby is especially strong as Octavian. Her voice is warm, rich, and supple, and her acting is vivid, particularly her comic turn when disguised as Mariandel. Emma Pearson's Sophie is highly sympathetic and her voice is sweet and colorful. All their scenes together are radiant -- they have palpable chemistry -- but their interactions in the second act the opera's closing duet are especially moving and endearing. Cheryl Baker makes an impressive, secure Marschallin, singing with authority and full tone, but her characterization isn't as sharply etched with bittersweet emotional complexity as that of the role's most acclaimed interpreters. Manfred Hemm's Baron Ochs is sonorous, and he brings just the right amount of comedy to the part. The supporting cast is consistently very fine. The sound of the live 2010 performance is detailed, well-balanced, and mostly clean (there's some audience noise), but it doesn't quite have the warm, rich ambience that best serves this score.