Elektra at the Dresden Semperoper

At the Dresden Semperoper you expect to encounter good performances of the operas of Richard Strauss, not the least Elektra which received its premiere here in 1909. And when the cast boasts Iréne Theorin in the title role, Camilla Nylund as Chrysothemis and Waltraud Meier as Klytämnestra, your expectations are at their highest. Indeed, this was an outstanding performance. Each of those three singers offered an integrated musical-dramatic portrayal which explored the depth of the character, as well as a response to the events which occur. If I have to pick out one – all right, I have to admit, one of my favourite singers – it was Frau Meier, able to catch with vocal inflection and bodily movement the multi-faceted dimensions of the role, from arrogance and scorn to vulnerability and isolation. More than this, aided by Barbara Frey’s sober and unexaggerated production and in Bettina Walter’s mid-20th century costumes, the performance could communicate the relevance of the piece to a world which has witnessed many victims of destructive forces. And I have still not mentioned the most impressive aspect of the evening. The Dresden Staatskapelle under Axel Kober produced an overwhelming account of the score, explosive in its violence, ecstatic in its occasional moments of lyricism.