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Strauss;Richard Elektra

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Product Details

  • Format: Classical, NTSC
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: German, Italian, English, French, Spanish, Japanese
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: Arthaus Musik
  • Release Date: March 29 2011
  • ASIN: B004KDO2OI
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #109,706 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 17 reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Relevant and beautifully realized April 21 2011
By wolfgang731 - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This Elektra should be used as a textbook example of how to bring contemporary relevance to an opera without disfiguring it to the point where it becomes wholly unrecognizable. I found the set design to be an amazing and equally imposing creation; an askew, industrial gray cube with rectangular windows spread across two walls, with asymmetrical doorways all framing a raked and tilted courtyard, dotted with potholes and an entrance to a subterranean portion of the palace, more German expressionism than antiquity but it all works superbly. History (and Sophocles, of course) tells us that Elektra takes place in ancient Greece; however, this production has a certain ambiguity with respect to the time and place in which the drama unfolds but that doesn't take away one bit from the overall effect. Yes, Aegisth strolls in wearing a three piece suit reminiscent of William Powell's Nick Charles, Klytemnestra in a dark fuchsia sequined evening gown and coat and her minions resembling members of some Nazi party organization, in tapered and austerely tailored garments in light gray with short finger wave hairdos and dark red lips. One would think that these costumes contrasted with Elektra's black frock, bare feet and pale face would prove jarring but it definitely works; an effective contrast between debauched opulence and wretched squalor. Somehow, it just all seems correct. I'm not a huge fan of so called "modern/ contemporary" productions, let alone Regietheatre that manage to eviscerate the composer's intent and vision, but admit that oftentimes, they can be powerful and that's certainly the case with this Elektra, even though the costumes are really the only thing with which the director has taken liberties, some other smaller details notwithstanding. The narrative is straightforward, blessedly free of pretentious, conceptual ideas and duly honors both Strauss and von Hofmannsthal original creation. On to the performances! Irene Theorin's Elektra is first rate; a consummate actress with the vocal resources to deliver the goods and deliver she does with seemingly endless reserves. Although she may lack Nilsson's laser-like voice, hers is far warmer, more akin to Borkh and Behrens. Her Elektra is a frightened animal - frenzied and nervous. Murderous intent has overwhelmed her completely and she is steadfast in her determination but the frailty and sadness that courses through her are very much evident. The intensity in her performance never lags. Westbroek's Chrysothemis is beautifully rendered and she is an equal vocal match to Theorin. However, her acting style is oftentimes of the stand-and-deliver variety but she does, occasionally, delve into deeper characterization. Waltraud Meier's Klytemnestra is phenomenal. Yes, the voice isn't as plush as it was but it's still in remarkable shape and she offers an earnest and profoundly moving portrait of the ambitious and tyrannical queen plagued by nightmares and a sense of encroaching dread. This Klytemnestra is more terrified and vulnerable than she is selfish and cruel. I'm a big fan of Pape and primarily bought this DVD for his Orest and, of course, I wasn't disappointed. Although, at first, he seemed a little hesitant and the voice somewhat under projected, he quickly gained a foothold and from then on it was full steam ahead. As the cowardly Aegisth, Robert Gambill was excellent, his voice firmly placed and with a warm roundness that I normally don't associate with the typical heldentenor voice. This was one of the few times that I was sorry that the role is so small and appears so late in the opera. The comprimario roles were all sung more than capably, not a weak link anywhere in this cast. Gatti conducts the Vienna Philharmonic with verve and attention to detail. He may not lead a frenzied and rambunctious type of performance but he has clear insight into the work and the nervous tension never wanes but the recognition scene was especially nuanced and beautiful. After the Met's Behrens/Levine production from 1994 (sadly unavailable as a single item but part of the Levine anniversary box set), this is my favorite production of Elektra.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Performance and Price and All Region Disc! June 25 2014
By violajoke - Published on
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
This is everything wonderful that the reviews on the full price Blu-Ray state but the price on the special edition is incredible. There is an error however on the information that Amazon provides on this particular version - it is an all region disc and plays perfectly on my U.S. player. This is great news for anyone on the fence due to the B/2 designation.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Noah.S - Published on
Format: Blu-ray
First off, this was a brilliant production, it was updated to a WWII setting, but the good thing about that was its one of those rare contemporary updates that doesn't completely stray from the original intent, the characters were all there, its full of great singing and acting, as well as a powerful vocal duel between Irene and Waltraud during her confrontation scene. The music is conducted quite fast and gives the impression of a dark action movie, which works cuz it really sets the mood. The quality of the Bluray really helps with the detail and atmosphere. The costumes are great, Irene has quite a dishevled and crazy look about her in her black dress and tangled wig with cracked pale make up. Eva Maria's look as Chrysothemis works, she contrasts with Elektra in her maroon dress and A-line hair a simple yet effective costume. Waltraud Meier is one beautiful yet flamboyant Clytemnestra, and Eva Maria's costume seemed to mirror hers, as Waltraud is bedecked in a sparkling 40's style ball gown of dark pink, with a scarlet fur coat to boot. The rest of the costumes are great as well, the 5 maids are dressed in black cowls and tattered gowns that look like feathers, which works as they are seen creeping about the darkness of the palace. The Trainbearer and Confidante (who look like identical twins... and are very good despite their brief appearence) wear gray leather blazers, and tight 40's style skirts, with gray gloves and platforms, with the gelled curly hair and it works. Orestes and the tutor with him look awesome in their black leather outfits and rogue knots (hairstyle) and they look the type to be prowlers in the palace. All in all this production was very good and I highly recommend it! :D plus the bonus feature is pretty awesome, as well as the price! :D
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Welcome to the cheap seats Oct. 9 2014
By H. Lyons - Published on
Format: Blu-ray
Well, I bought this on a whim. I was not familiar with the synopsis or the music but I couldn't pass up another cheap opera on BluRay. I'm so glad I forked over the $9.99 because not only was it fantastic but, getting it for a rock-bottom price only sweetened the deal.

Even though Elektra is only one act and the scenery never changes, between the wonderful singing/acting and the lighting and set design, I didn't mind at all. Strauss' music is dramatic and riveting as well and it always feels as if it has great momentum. The costumes and set are modern, obviously. But, it's done very tastefully. I'll admit it. I really can't stand "Euro Trash" opera and so I'm always a little worried when an opera is given a contemporary staging. However, when it is done well, it's always thrilling to see and experience.

Now, if you tend to like Verdi and Puccini mostly, this one might be out of your comfort zone. There's no romance here. But, if you are like me and you love opera, I encourage you to step outside the box and try something new because at less than ten bucks, what have you got to lose?
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Complex Elektra May 10 2011
By Keris Nine - Published on
Format: Blu-ray
The 2010 production of Elektra for the Salzburg Festspiele is an impressive production, Nikolaus Lehnhoff's staging as intense and claustrophobic as a staging of Strauss' opera ought to be. In addition, this production also benefits from a superlative cast including Iréne Theorin, Waltraud Meier, Eva-Maria Westbroek and René Pape, with Daniele Gatti conducting the Wiener Philharmoniker. It doesn't come much better than this and it does live up to expectations ...unless you already have a strong preference for another production.

Unsurprisingly, for a director like Lehnhoff working with such an opera, the stage setting is a reflection of the internal torment of Elektra, fixated as she is on the death of her father Agamemnon and the desire for vengeance against his murderers, her mother Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus. She's waiting on her brother Orestes to exact that vengeance for her, but, hearing of his death from her sister Chrysothemis, she prepares to carry out the foul deed herself. Lehnhoff envisages the tempestuous fluctuations of Elektra's state of mind as a grey barren landscape, undulating and tilted, full of fractures and chasms from which horrors torment her and into which she is about to drop into at any moment. It's reminiscent of his 1999 stage setting for Wagner's Parsifal, forcing one to draw interesting comparisons between Wagner's score for that opera and Strauss', the themes being similar in respect of Elektra in an eternal state of suffering and torment seeking release or purification.

If the stage setting is highly effective in this respect, its impact is somewhat lessened by the lack of wide-shots to take in the whole stage, the filming for television focussing for the most part on close-ups of Iréne Theorin's fixed mask of madness, which is powerful, but limiting and not quite so effective as what is evoked by the stage set as a whole, and by her position alongside the other characters within that space, since Lehnhoff is very considered about the movement and placement of characters in relation to one another. Fortunately, there is much more expressed in this opera through the score and the singing than through the acting, and here Theorin is terrific, cutting an imposing figure vocally and through her physical presence that dictates the whole tone of the piece. Elektra is a notoriously difficult role for a singer, Theorin having to sing pretty much for an hour and a half without break in the one-act opera, and she rises to the challenge, seeming to grow in strength and intensity right up to the devastating conclusion.

The other singers likewise live up to expectations. René Pape, as you would expect is a strong Orestes, even if he lacks the necessary dramatic qualities here. Westbroek sometimes seems to be danger of going a little shrill and harsh, but shows nevertheless fine control and manages to remain a lyrical Chrysothemis, contrasting well with Theorin's Elektra. Theorin is also well-pitted against Waltraud Meier, but sparks don't fly as they might between Elektra and Clytemnestra, the production here finding a sense of deep mutual like-mother-like-daughter recognition in the two figures, both in the nature of their own internal conflict and in the depths that they are prepared to sink to. It's an interesting variation on the mythological relationship, but it doesn't capture the fullest extent of the conflict within of their relationship that is a little more "complex" (sorry!) and expressed with greater precision in the discordance of Richard Strauss' score.

Although it's hard to justify a preference for Linda Watson and Jane Henschel over Theorin and Meier, Watson's acting in particular being limited to the adoption of a haughty expression that is no match whatsoever for the brooding anguish of Theorin's interpretation, the Baden-Baden 2010 production is sung and played terrifically well with a striking staging, and I feel that Christian Thielemann's much more adventurous conducting brings out the dynamism in the opera and an edge that is missing here. That's a personal preference however, just as others might equally prefer the Karl Böhm version, since otherwise there's little to fault about the performances, staging or conducting of this fine production.

Other than the predominance of close-ups, there's little to fault with its presentation on Blu-ray either, the opera looking and sounding terrific in High Definition. Audience applause at the start and bows at the end have been eliminated, and I rather liked the dramatic integrity this gave the opera. Subtitles are in English, French, Spanish and Italian, but no German. Other than trailers for other releases, there are no extra features and only a brief essay and a synopsis in the booklet.