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Elektra [Import]

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Product Details

  • Format: Classical, NTSC, Import
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: German, Italian, English, French, Spanish, Japanese
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Arthaus Musik
  • Release Date: March 29 2011
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • ASIN: B004KDO2OI
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa039f6f0) out of 5 stars 5 reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0396c6c) out of 5 stars Relevant and beautifully realized April 21 2011
By wolfgang731 - Published on Amazon.com
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.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa1811c0c) out of 5 stars A Superb Elektra April 18 2011
By DDD - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This Salzburg performance of Elektra has been cast with major voices and should go to the top of the list of available performances. Of course had DVD been available fifty years ago two names could easily have trumped all the existing versions: Borkh and Varnay. But we must deal with reality and focus on what Theorin, Westbroek, Pape and Meier bring to the proceedings. Elektra is a very difficult role, one that I hope Theorin will not sing that often. It truly stretches her to the outer limits of her abilities, but having said that it is a performance in which she is truly committed which to some degree can compensate for any vocal frailties or shortcomes.

Theorin's Elektra (there is also another new DVD featuring Linda Watson, but I have not heard it) is the most recent entry. She gives a thoroughly involved performance. There is not a moment when she fails to convey her hatred for her mother and her contempt for her sister. True there are a couple of moments vocally when she is taxed beyond her capabilities but overall she is superior to Johanssen in the Zurich performance and vocally more steady than Marton in the Kupfer production in Vienna. Had Nilsson been able to commit the role to film ten years earlier--1970 rather than 1980 we doubtless would have had a performance for the ages; as it is the document that we have is not the Nilsson I remember in her prime; Actually Nilsson had to be heard live in the house as any recording in some way compromised her voice.

The production is by Lenhoff which means that you are going to have to deal with his need to update the setting. In this case the updating is less expreme than, say, Lohengrin or Dialogue of the Carmelites. The setting is severes and appropriate: a stone courtyard with a severely raked stage. The sidewalls are at angles resemblinig German expressionism in the films of the twenties. Costuming is somewhat era-vague although very definitely not "Grecian. Elektra wears a dress that is simple and plain. Her sister's dress is similar except that the color is a vivid purple. Clytemnestra arrives wearing a turban and a red coat with a large collar of feathers. She also sports dark glasses, retro style. Orestes wears a(by now) standard regie leather jacket, knee length. Aegist in a business suit. Elektra also wears, carries or puts it on the floor an overcoat (leather) Any significance? Your guess is as good as mine. At the end she gives it to Orestes.

Fortunately the Lenhoff touches do not detract from the performanace as they so in other productions, e.g., Lohengrin and Parsifal--although I must admist i liked the latter. What remains are the performances of the three women. Theorin's voice is probably not as large as Nilsson's or Marton's and she does not have Nilsson's laser like instrument. She also emulates her Swedish countryman in that she also sings Turandot--again a role that one could question. Westbroek is a superb Chrysothemnis, the possessor of a warm lyrico spinto voice. She matches Theorin in commmitment. Meier is an artist who has never failed to deliver in the appropriate fach. The voice is no longer plush--all those Isolde's have taken a toll, but it is rather refreshing to see Clytemnestra not "dressed down" as it were. Dramatically she is demonic. Pape's Orestes ;is gloriously sung--could it be otherwise?

Usually the booklet accompanying the disc will state that the DVD is drived from performancees over a number of days. All that is provided is that the production was lived the large theatre, Salzburg Festival 2010. There is no applause at the end so that presumably it was a dress rehearsal--at least that portion. After a performance such as this the applause would have been in order.
19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa1811c54) out of 5 stars Reposted from Superconductor: "Blood Bath in Baden-Baden" Feb. 12 2011
By Paul Pelkonen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
This DVD of Richard Strauss' blood-drenched Greek tragedy was filmed in June of 2010 at Baden-Baden. This is a successful, almost clinical staging of the opera, staged by Herbert Wernicke without the usual gore and decay. Mr. Wernicke's set is stark and geometric, dominated by a giant rotating, black rectangle that turns on its diagonal axis to reveal bright hues. It's like a Robert Wilson production, unhampered by awkward body movements.

In the opening monologue, soprano Linda Watson pushes her instrument to the absolute limit, and beyond. Elektra is a murderously difficult role, and this American soprano sings with a searing sound when at full voice over Strauss' gigantic orchestra. Ms. Watson achieves command of Strauss' tricky waltz rhythms in the second part of the aria, and manages a full, powerful presence, never leaving the center of attention. She is sweet, even cloying in her scenes with Chrysothemis. Finally, she opens up her voice for an impressive "Recognition Scene" with Orest, raising her voice high against the (temporarily) lightened orchestration in a soaring arch of sound.

Klytaemnestra is played with a grandiose, Sunset Boulevard decadence by Jane Henschel. Strauss reserved his most difficult music for this mother-daughter confrontation, sinuous, ear-scraping orchestral figures that broke the limits of tonality and inspired many modern composers. The confrontation is masterfully acted and powerfully sung, with impressive, almost growled low notes from Ms. Henschel. Klytaemnestra's scarlet-and-gold train is put to good use as a as a symbol of power and a surrogate bloodstain for the murder that is to come.

As Chrysothemis, the "good" sister embroiled in Elektra's plan to avenge the murder of her father, Manuela Uhl makes a solid impression. Ms. Uhl has a hard, bright instrument that is also taxed by the heavy orchestra. Emotionally, she is limited to fear and confusion, caught between her mother's machinations and her sister's raw blood lust, but those are the two central emotions of this weak character. One clever touch: after Klytaemnestra is axed, her younger daughter wastes no time in appropriating the baubles, charms and beads from the Queen's corpse--effectively taking her mother's place.

In an opera with three leading ladies, it is sometimes hard for the men to be noticed. Rene Kollo is Aegisth, the latest in a line of faded heldentenors to be led to the slaughter. Albert Dohmen is a powerful, if unemotional Orest, determined to kill his mother and steeled to the task at hand. This sturdy Wagner baritone does not have time to give much more information than that.

On the podium, Christian Thielemann shows great command of rhythm and Strauss' rich orchestral detail. He leads the Munich Philharmonic with a light, airy touch, letting the orchestra waltz in demented triple time before letting the brass smash out great, slab-like chords. Mr. Thielemann is a fine Strauss conductor, who follows the composer's advice about Elektra: to conduct "as if it were by Mendelssohn: fairy music."
13 of 20 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa01c5cf0) out of 5 stars This is a concert, March 16 2011
By Dr. Fernando Cordova - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This minimalist prodution does have its virtues, but it is not evoking any emotional response from me. The orchestra is gorgeous and exciting thanks to Thielemann. But the main problem is that Watson is not an Elektra. She can sing it, but she is uninvolved and just start to do so a little at the end. It is like a rehearsal, a concert. Give me Rysanek, Varnay, or Behrens for the real thing.
By Peter Corbett - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Outstanding cast, great set, Salzburg Festival, especially liked the staging, the ending was unexpected. Would thoroughly reccomend it to everyone.