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Sheer Tension

The first performance of the unabridged 'Elektra'
enthralls the audience,


Stéphane Lissner, longtime director general of the Festival International de Art Lyrique in Aix en Provence and now superintendent and artistic director of La Scala, considers Richard Strauss' Elektra as the best opera of the twentieth century. Even if this is not a universally shared opinion -- among Strauss' work for the stage, your reviewer considers Die Frau ohne Schatten as the absolute and unrivaled masterpiece -- the 'tragedy in one act' about the gruesome events in the Kingdom of the Mycenae is a milestone in opera history.

Very few are aware that the Strauss-Hofmannsthal tragedy has never been performed unabridged until very recently. In 1909, at its première in Dresden, a few verses of the text (and the relevant music) were cut because their explicit sexual references were considered unbecoming. Indeed as late as in 1968, in the Golden Encyclopedia of Music, Normal Llod calls even the 'abridged' text 'too lurid'...

Copyright © 9 February 2010 Giuseppe Pennisi,
Rome, Italy






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