Elektra was the last of performances in my shortened Strauss-Woche, and probably the performance I was looking forward to seeing most eagerly.
Sunday, April 3rd. The morning sun was shining tenderly over the city which had Berlin half-marathon scheduled, and my hotel, together with Deutsche Oper across the street, positioned inside the loop, was embraced by silence and tranquility of super quiet Sunday, which has been disturbed by regular church bells ringing in the distance. No sound of passing car, no sound of police or emergency sirens that would typically intrude at this time of the day. Time to read and prepare for super intense, electrifying performance in late afternoon.
One of the disadvantages going for opera performance in the country which language you are not fluent in, is inability to read production comments before the performance. On the other hand, it might become helpful since there are no bias or disagreements in place, and the mind is clear to absorb and process information, as well as music unconditionally. This time it was my pure experience with Elektra – I have come here to get to know who she is?
The main question of the performance that has been staged in the golden-painted bunker filled with soil or dirt which does not let you escape and run free (sets by Bernd Damovsky) is how far passion and obsession is and whether the concepts we create in our mind actually exist in real world.
Evelyn Herlitzius as Elektra was of utmost surprise; I have read praise by other opera lovers regards her distinctive sound, and this is true – as she has both the volume and range, as well as pleasant tone even in highest notes of top register.
Klytämnestra by Doris Soffel was extravagant and dramatically impressive though vocally role is relatively short. Nevertheless, her behind the scenes screaming was even more impressing than actual scene appearance.
Director Kirsten Harms received special praise after the performance on behalf of Deutsche Oper Berlin, as my very limited German could decipher, for great work done, especially at this production. It would have been nice to have at least brief summary, nevertheless, I should admit that regardless of some minor issues I did like the concept as well as sets.
Donald Runnicles led the orchestra with surprising ease and agility. Even if I am not an expert in Strauss and do not know his operas so well as one of opera fans, whom we have met after performance, and who was complaining that again the best part of the score has been cut in Scene 2, the sound of orchestra was so well balanced and blended, and also aligned to singers, that altogether they have created musically outstanding performance. The audience expressed enthusiasm and appreciation through thundering ovations and did not let the cast to leave the stage.
Now, I have solid foundations to further explore who actually Elektra is, and how much of her dilemmas exist in my golden painted inner fortress..
Elektra, Richard Strauss (1864 – 1949)
Tragedy in one act
Poem by Hugo von Hofmannsthal
First performance on 25th January, 1909 at Dresden
Premiered at the Deutsche Oper Berlin on 3rd November, 2007
Conductor Donald Runnicles
Director Kirsten Harms
Set-design, costume-design Bernd Damovsky
Chorus-conductor William Spaulding
Choreographer Silvana Schröder
Klytämnestra Doris Soffel
Elektra Evelyn Herlitzius
Chrysothemis Manuela Uhl
Aegisth Clemens Bieber
Orest Tobias Kehrer
Der Pfleger des Orest Seth Carico
Die Vertraute Nicole Haslett
Die Schleppträgerin Alexandra Hutton
Ein junger Diener James Kryshak
Ein alter Diener Stephen Bronk
Die Aufseherin Stephanie Weiss
1. Magd Annika Schlicht
2. Magd Rebecca Jo Loeb
3. Magd Jana Kurucová
4. Magd Fionnuala McCarthy
5. Magd Elbenita Kajtazi
Chorus Chor der Deutschen Oper Berlin
Orchestra Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin
Dancer Opernballett der Deutschen Oper Berlin
Photo © by Bettina Stöβ