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Strauss: Elektra / Gatti, Pape, Theorin, Meier, Westbroek, Gambill [blu-ray]

Strauss / Theorin / Meier / Pape / Vpo / Lehnhoff
Release Date: 03/29/2011 
Label:  Arthaus Musik   Catalog #: 101560  
Composer:  Richard Strauss
Performer:  Iréne TheorinWaltraud MeierRené PapeEva-Maria Westbroek,   ... 
Conductor:  Daniele Gatti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic OrchestraVienna State Opera Chorus Konzertvereinigung
Number of Discs: 1 
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Blu-ray Video:  $39.99
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This Blu-ray Disc is only playable on Blu-ray Disc players and not compatible with standard DVD players.

Also available on standard DVD

R. STRAUSS Elektra Daniele Gatti, cond; Iréne Theorin ( Elektra ); Waltraud Meier ( Klytämnestra ); Eva-Maria Westbroek ( Chrysothemis ); Robert Gambill ( Aegisth Read more class="ARIAL12">); René Pape ( Orest ); Vienna St Op Ch; Vienna PO ARTHAUS MUSIK 101560 (Blu-ray: 109:00) Live: Salzburg 2010

"Nikolaus Lehnhoff appears to be one of the “in” opera directors these days, and rightly so. His “radical reinterpretation” (to quote Andrew Quint in Fanfare 29:2) of Wagner’s Parsifal manages to present a totally new view of Parsifal , visually and philosophically, without seriously irritating most traditionalists. His Elektra is generally more conventional, but still contains a few surprises. The basic set includes three massive, angular walls with window-like openings surrounding an essentially empty stage. The drab blues, grays, and blacks are similar to the colors in Lehnhoff’s Parsifal . The center of the back wall contains a large, smooth, brownish, rectangular section with a doorway that magically opens to permit various people to come and go. The different design of this section makes it suspicious that something important is going to happen at some point, and so it does at the shocking and dramatic conclusion of the production. As with Parsifal , Lehnhoff does a lot with makeup, and that is extremely important because of the crucial role of close-ups in this striking Blu-ray production. The stark and simple set encourages a laser-like focus on the dramatic interactions between Elektra, Chrysothemis, Klytämnestra, and Orest.

Iréne Theorin’s Elektra dominates the show, as she should. Her voice is perhaps a little light for the role, especially for those of you who are used to Birgit Nilsson doing battle with Georg Solti and the Vienna Philharmonic in their justly legendary Decca-London recording, but she rarely makes any squally sounds and is for the most part fine with Daniele Gatti’s comparably subdued orchestral accompaniment. Her facial expressions (with prominent pale white makeup) in response to the onstage events carry the dramatic weight of the story. In contrast (as with Kundry in Lehnhoff’s Parsifal ), Waltraud Meier has richly contrasting flesh tones as she cavorts around in a bright purplish red outfit. Meier portrays Klytämnestra as being more frightened than crazy. She is vocally superior and less histrionic than many of the dramatic sopranos who play this role. Eva-Maria Westbroek (Chrysothemis) is fine vocally, but spends most of her time wandering around the stage in an annoying “Oh woe is me” fashion. René Pape (Orest) represents luxuriant casting. He is solemn and stiff (that may be Lehnhoff’s doing), but that is no big deal once you hear his magnificently rich and imposing voice, which is all that you really need in this role.

All of which brings us to Daniele Gatti and the Vienna Philharmonic. If you prefer to hear Strauss’s massive orchestra rage in Elektra (as I do), Gatti’s approach will not be ideal. With Decca-London’s unparalleled sound, Solti produces unprecedented power combined with cutting analytical clarity that highlights every detail of Strauss’s orchestration. Gatti is also interested in fine instrumental detail, but he fails to control the Vienna Philharmonic’s characteristic dark, burnished sound, which tends to round edges and lessen impact in this case. The music in many places sounds too beautiful, and those final crashing chords lack the brutal force that Solti generates on his Decca-London CD.

The Blu-ray visual production and sound are magnificent in this live Salzburg Festival production. Gatti’s interpretation may not have Solti’s power, but there is no lack of fine instrumental detail. You should also be careful at the beginning to avoid blowing out your speakers. There is no view of the opera house or the conductor entering the orchestra pit, so the performance begins explosively without warning with the massive opening brass chord. Sound formats are DTS HD 5:1 multichannel and PCM stereo. Subtitles are available in English, German, French, Spanish, and Italian.

To sum up, this is probably the most dramatically compelling Elektra available on DVD, including Theorin’s performance and Lehnhoff’s final onstage shocker."

FANFARE: Arthur Lintgen

Picture format: 1080P, 16:9
Sound format: PCM Stereo / HD Master Audio 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Subtitles:German (Original language), English, French, Italian, Spanish
Running time: 109 mins
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Works on This Recording

Elektra, Op. 58 by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Iréne Theorin (Soprano), Waltraud Meier (Mezzo Soprano), René Pape (Bass),
Eva-Maria Westbroek (Soprano), Robert Gambill (Tenor)
Conductor:  Daniele Gatti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus Konzertvereinigung
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1906-1908; Germany 

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