I may have posted this before -- skip it if it sounds familiar. When I was 13 or 14, I read a critical biography of Strauss. The author (name long forgotten) didn't think much of Der Rosenkavalier; he dismissed it as "a glittering, empty shell." I still remember those words. At the time I was shocked. I knew in my bones that that was magic music, and I was stunned by the realization for the first time that books aren't always right. A double whammy. But, alas, my enthusiasm for the opera has waned somewhat over the years, and I don't really know why. Maybe I needed that near-daily exposure to it that Jon had.