With Richard Strauss’ “Elektra”, the Salzburg Festival delivers a thoroughly impressive new production that the Vienna daily Kurier calls the “best new opera production of 2010”. Reaping acclaim are the top-quality vocalists as well as the mighty stage set and the sensitive direction of Nikolaus Lehnhoff.
Portraying Elektra is Swedish soprano Iréne Theorin, who injects astonishing dramatic power into her role. “Impressive in every respect”, wrote the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung about her role debut here. Inter- nationally acclaimed Wagner singer Waltraud Meier also gives her spectacular, com- manding stage debut here as Klytämnestra. They are complemented by an outstanding Eva-Maria Westbroek as Chrysothemis, and a forceful René Pape as Orest.
Nikolaus Lehnhoff’s many years of experi-ence on the world’s greatest stages are clearly visible in his direction of the singers: moving about a sinister, forbidding set bathed in suggestively changing lighting, the vocalists are treated as stage actors, whose expressive gestures are captured with partic-ular vividness and immediacy by the camera. Leading the Wiener Philharmoniker is Daniele Gatti. Alternating between late 19th-century lyricism and early 20th-century excess, he clearly emphasizes the dual conflicts at the heart of the work.
When “Elektra” was premiered in 1909, audiences could hardly believe their ears: jarring dissonances, monstrous orchestral build-ups, outbursts of raw passion, Wagnerian demands on the lead vocalist – this was Expressionist music in its most radical form. In their first artistic collaboration, Strauss and his librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal packed the primordial power of the ancient Greek myth into a one-acter that literally explodes upon the stage. No wonder today, “Elektra” ranks among the undisputed masterpieces of the popular composer.
Iréne Theorin, Elektra
Waltraut Meier, Klytämnestra
Eva-Maria Westbroek, Chrysothemis
Robert Gambill, Aegisth
René Pape, Orest
Daniele Gatti, conductor
Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor
Thomas Lang, chorus master