Opera Abbreviated: Elektra

Apr 26, 2016

 The collaboration between composer Richard Strauss (1865-1949) and librettist Hugo von Hofmansthal (1874-1929) produced the last great run of German language operas,  Der Rosenkavalier Ariadne auf Naxos and Arabella among them.Work between them began not with comedy, nor with domestic drama or fairy tales. All of that came later. Work between them began with Greek tragedy, Sophocles Electra.

I like to be a tad raffish , or at least funny, fun as I approach opera. The most heart-breaking drama can still bring a few smiles and a lot of sentiment. Not so with 'Elektra.' This is a one act opera about "blut." Blood. Avenging the murder of a king and restoring a royal house, leaving bodies, carrion and voices for miles.

At Elektra's rehearsals in Dresden prior to the 1909 premiere, Strauss told the orchestra, "Play louder! I can still hear the singers!"   The contralto Ernestine Schumann-Heink, ​playing the doomed Klytamnestra, wrote, "We were a bunch of mad women. It was frightful. There is nothing beyond Elektra."

We don't have to rehearse or sing, but we do get to watch this new production by Patrice Chereau, of this brutal score. See it with someone you love, or at least someone you trust not to cut your throat on the way home.