Monday, 30 January 2017

Richard Strauss, Elektra - Staatsoper Stuttgart

Performance 28th January

Last weekend I traveled back to Stuttgart after a long time to see two of my favorite works. The first evening was dedicated to Strauss' probably most modern opera and surely one of the bloodiest stories in his oeuvre. Despite its relatively short duration it is extremely demanding for both, performers and audience. The music is brutally loud and creates a thoroughly nervous atmophere, but also thrills the listener from the very first moment to the very last.
The production by Peter Konwitschny which premiered in 2005 was a bit disappointing for me because I expected more of him. I have seen several of his productions, but this one seemed a bit boring and odd. Despite some really interesting ideas and some funnily grotesque moments the whole production struck me as a bit too simple. The impersonal stage and costumes by Hans-Joachim Schlieker did not really help. Sure, it was not a bad production, but as I said I expected a bit more of Konwitschny.
Musically it was a first-class performance led by Ulf Schirmer who kept the overall volume quite high, but the singers were still able to be heard through the walls of sound. The Staatsorchester Stuttgart did a very good job following his lead and gave a balanced and thrilling performance throughout the evening.
The many small roles (maids, servants etc.) were sung well and the overall impression was solid and positive. Torsten Hofmann sang the role of Aegisth with a clear and powerful bright tenor voice. He managed the incredibly high tessitura of the short role very well and gave a very pleasing performance.
As Orest we heard Shigeo Ishino who also sang his part very well. His imperious strong dark voice suited the role marvelously and I really liked his passionate performance. The fact that this role is very static is not very rewarding, but he definitely convinced me.
My personal highlight of the evening was Simone Schneider as Chrysothemis. Her voice is really incredible and combines vocal beauty with incredibly clean transitions and impressive power and stamina. Despite all these advantages she also has a marvelously clear and bright timbre that rings like a bell. She sang the part beautifully and I cannot imagine it to be sung better at all.
Doris Soffel was a very hysteric and crazy Klytämnestra. Her voice still has quite some power and projects very well into the auditorium. She is not new to this role and you could tell that she has a lot of experience with it. I really enjoyed her great multi-dimensional portrayal and I have to say: she still has it.
The title role was sung by Rebecca Teem, a dramatic soprano of extraordinary ability. Her voice works very well in all registers and her top seems to be very easy and shows great power and stamina. Sometimes the timbre might be edgy in the top, but undoubtly she gave a magnificent performance throughout the whole evening.
I really enjoyed the whole performance and I was thrilled from the first note to the last one. The production might not be something extraordinarily great, but it is not bad as well. Especially the cast is definitely worth the travelling and so I give 9 stars to Elektra in Stuttgart.
Reviewed by Daniel Url

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