Picture format: 1080i Full HD
Sound format: PCM Stereo / DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Subtitles: English, German, French, Italian, Spanish
Booklet notes: English, German, French
Running time: 102 mins
No. of Discs: 1 (BD 25)
Usually despatched in 2 - 3 working days.
Set Design by Rolf Glittenberg & Costume Design by Heidi Hackl.
When Richard Strauss set Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s “Electra” to music in 1909, it marked the beginning of the long-standing and productive collaboration between the two artists. Convinced that the drama was suitable to be staged as an opera, Strauss produced some music that could ideally achieve the expressionistic “trauma of faithfulness” that the work demanded. Martin Kušejs’ production at the Zurich opera house brings the bloody, ancient story into the present day: In the courtyard of her father who was murdered at the hands of her mother, Electra’s isolation is striking in that she is dressed as a punk in the better family. The director expertly realises the tension between uninhibited and yet suppressed sexuality: “…a sinister, cold atmosphere of sex and degradation“. We witness a society that has gone mad, one that only knows violence. The soloists and Christoph von Dohnányi with the choir and orchestra of the Zurich Opera magnifi cently make their contribution to this truly unique Electra.
“It's a change to see a production of Strauss's and Hofmannsthal's psychotic masterwork that's not weighted with greater German gloom, louring Second World War-derived imagery and cakes of lurid make-up. Martin Kušej directs people well, and since Elektra is largely an opera of dialogues, his work (all closely derived from the text) demands attention.
Eva Johansson's Elektra is a hooded tomboy with definite Asbo leanings; she has to be on full throttle for this role but both Dohnányi's orchestra and TDK's engineers are kind to her.
Melanie Diener, a consummate singing actress, locates the hard, hard role of Chrysothemis somewhere between Victoria Beckham and Brechtian alienation: every entry, every new event is as surprising to her as a goldfish going round its bowl.
Marjana Lipovšek presents their mother as a complex of confused identities, eschewing both in voice and acting any melodramatic harridan tendencies. As their brother, Alfred Muff survives a dreadful first 'disguise' wig to present a revenger of quiet, un-neurotic determination.
Equally original is Rudolf Schasching's lecherous groper of an Aegisthus, convincingly deceived when Elektra plays up to his libido.
The action takes places in a dangerously uneven, hillock-strewn courtyard, reached by many doors. There is much cavorting by the smaller roles: the maids (and one token transvestite) dress up as…maids (French) for Aegisthus' pleasure, while action or tension in the palace (Strauss's 'interludes') is illustrated by door-to-door crosses by a large troupe of actors in various states of ecstasy, undress, axecarrying, etc. They've not been terribly well directed and the effect only really works when the (false) news of Orestes' death sets off Klytemnestra's laugh. At the end, when revenge is done, the girl extras perform a dance in Las Vegas-style frillies – weird, but suitably unnerving.
Dohnányi's old master's approach to the score goes for a long pay-off rather than whipping up the tension from the word go, employing a wide range of tempi and dynamics and stressing the modernity of the score. Both the Vienna staging of Harry Kupfer (with Claudio Abbado) and the studio film of Götz Friedrich (with Karl Böhm and a veteran stellar cast) remain indispensable.
But, for an alternative vision allied to a close, human reading of the text, the new performance, while not quite the sum of its parts, makes for intelligent viewing.”
“Dohnanyi's powerful conducting and the singing of a fine cast make this TDK account of Strauss Elektra magnetically compelling. Eva Johansson has a sharp cutting edge to her soprano, entirely apt for the role, well contrasted with the much sweeter Chrysothemis of Melanie Diener”
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