An unholy decadence « parterre field

Peter G. Davis in Excessive Constancy/Musical America:

Having recovered sufficiently from the shock of mounting 4 new productions within the [first] two weeks of the season, the Met offered a brand new “Elektra” of blended virtues in the direction of the top of the month. Rudolf Heinrich has conceived a threatening set which magnificently suggests the crumbling ruins of a as soon as robust and proud household. Fanning down from upstage alongside the courtyard ground are 4 immense, striated, siliceous stone slabs. These monoliths are mirrored by 4 matching boulders suspended from the ceiling and sweeping as much as the proscenium. By decaying holes and gouges within the palace wall one can spy such actions because the wild procession of animals being led to sacrifice and, in a while, the homicide of Aegisthus. It’s in excellent distinction to Heinrich’s splendid “Salome” designs, which additionally exude an unholy decadence. However Salome’s sickly, perfumed decomposition is born of a lassitudinous sensual surfeit; Elektra’s deterioration then again, stems from a violent energy generated by sensual frustration. It’s all summed up superbly in Heinrich’s brooding, rotten mausoleum.

Virtually everybody was pleasantly stunned by Birgit Nilsson’s unexpectedly “proper” Salome two years in the past, and even higher issues have been anticipated from her Elektra. Definitely the function has hardly ever been accorded such an excellent vocal efficiency; in relation to endurance and talent to trip out the mightiest Straussian orchestral tides, Nilsson clears the ground of all competitors. Nonetheless, it was a curiously uninvolving hour and three quarters – partly due, I feel, to the restrained detachment of Miss Nilsson s performing in addition to to the unrelieved sunny brilliance of her voice (which, because it seems, is extra at dwelling with the technicolored Salome than the darkish, glowering Elektra). From watching this artist develop in a component over previous years, one can predict that one thing extra constructive will ultimately develop, however proper now it’s very chilly.

Regina Resnik performs Klytmnestra as an awfully lovely, proud and regal determine tottering on the point of hysteria -a far cry from the grotesque, bloated hag offered by most mezzos. The dignity with which Miss Resnik garments the function will increase the queen’s stature immeasurably and provides poignancy to the fleeting impulses of maternal heat and her flinches of terror as Elektra particulars the horrible loss of life in retailer. Moreover, Miss Resnik is content material to sing the music, and really superbly at that, letting Strauss’ graphic prosody inform its personal story. A really nice efficiency.

Chrysothemis discovered Leonie Rysanek in glorious vocal form, and he or she threw herself into the half together with her traditional abandon. I can’t assist pondering that she has miscalculated the dramatic impact considerably: removed from being the modest and retiring sister prompt by Hofmannsthal, this Chrysothemis may clearly have straight-armed Elektra, marched out the door, and had the primary farmer’s son that got here alongside.

William Dooley was too light-voiced to make a correct impact as Orestes, however Robert Nagy sketched a nasty and petulant Aegisthus. Apart from Carlotta Ordassy’s Overseer, the remaining small elements, and specifically the 5 serving maids, have been very poorly taken, with solely approximations of the vocal writing. The orchestra once more performed superlatively, however though Thomas Schippers deftly accompanied the conversational sections and coaxed some beautiful textural nuances from the rating; the large lyrical moments have been merely batted out, very loudly. If Herbert Graf’s staging supplied little that was new, its very simplicity quietly and successfully underlined this stark drama.

On at the present time in 1961 tenor Sandor Konya made his Met debut as Lohengrin. Ingrid Bjoner debuted as Elsa.

Birthday anniversaries of tenors Fritz Wolff (1894), Giovanni Voyer (1901) and Warren Ellsworth (1951);
composer Howard Hanson (1896) and contralto Claramae Turner (1920).