Magazine article Gramophone

R Strauss: Elektra

Magazine article Gramophone

R Strauss: Elektra

Article excerpt

R Strauss [G] Elektra  Birgit Nilsson sop                            Elektra Regina Resnik mez                        Klytemnestra Leonie Rysanek sop                       Chrysothemis Wolfgang Windgassen ten                     Aegisthus Eberhard Waechter bar                         Orestes Frederick Guthrie bar                           Tutor Margareta Sjostedt contr       Confidante/Maidservant Margarita Lilowa mez                      Trainbearer Gerhard Unger ten                       Young Servant Herbert Lackner bass                      Old Servant Danica Mastilovic sop                        Overseer Gundula Janowitz, Gerda Scheyrer sops Margarete Ast mez                        Maidservants 

Chorus and Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera / Karl Bohm Orfeo (M) (2) C886 1421 (99' * ADD) Recorded live, December 16,1965

In my Gramophone Collection on Elektra (9/13), five of the recordings were conducted by Karl Bohm. This one, from the first night of a production by Wieland Wagner, just about beats them all. It is both immensely exciting and deeply moving. According to the booklet-note, Birgit Nilsson had sung the leading role only once before, in Stockholm (in Swedish, I wonder?); here, the year before making the famous studio recording under Solti, she already sounds completely at home in the part. The opening monologue is everything it should be: a haunting invocation to her father Agamemnon that embraces her loneliness, the recollection of his murder, and a triumphant anticipation of violent revenge; every phrase perfectly calibrated, culminating in a spine-tingling top C. There's another gleaming top C at the end of the scene with Klytemnestra; but equally memorable is the delicacy with which she calls her mother--maliciously, as the Trainbearer points out--a goddess. …

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