Static Elektra

For the performances of Elektra at the 2010 Baden-Baden festival the Powers that Be chose to revive Herbert Wernicke’s 1997 Munich production with Bettina Göschl directing.  The production concept seems to have been inspired by classical Greek drama.  Sets and costumes are very simple, even austere, and the singers often address the audience directly.  On stage this probably worked quite well as the overall effects are visually striking and the relative lack of interaction between the characters is perhaps appropriate for a work that is so much about alienation.

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We’ll meet again in a better world

Richard Strauss’ last opera Die Liebe der Danae has a pretty chequered production history.  It was scheduled to premiere at the 1944 Salzburg Festival but that was scuppered when all theatres were closed following the July bomb plot.  A special exception was made for Die Liebe der Danae in that a single, public dress rehearsal was allowed at the conclusion of which Strauss is said to have bid farewell to the Wiener Philharmoniker with the words quoted in the title.  It then remained unperformed until the 1952 festival where it got its true premier followed by productions over the next two years in most major European houses.  After that it pretty much dropped out of the repertoire with occasional performances in Germany but apparently the production recorded at the Deutsche Oper Berlin in 2011 is only the sixteenth production all told.  It’s a bit hard to see why it has been so neglected.  The music is perfectly good Strauss though maybe it lacks a headline aria of the “Es gibt ein Reich” variety.  Maybe the subject matter was just too frivolous for the immediately post-war world; it’s described as “A Joyful Mythology in Three Acts”.  In any event, I was happy to discover it.

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