Though "Der Rosenkavalier" contains some of Strauss's most sublime music, the opera is padded with overly long and musically subpar comic bits. But it has seldom seemed as dramatically effective as it did under Mr. Nagano, and his fleet tempos were only part of the reason. He rid the score of the schmaltz that has accrued to it from wrongheaded notions of Straussian style. Not one milked phrase, not one slice of ham marred Mr. Nagano's interpretation. He was keenly attentive to the intricate rhetoric of the music, that is, to the layout of phrases. Clarity was more important than charm. His conducting embodied the life motto of the opera's most beloved character, the Marschallin, who tells her adolescent lover, Octavian, that he must hold things fast, then let them go.