Cher Public

Last soprano standing

survive“As for Elektra — one of the most strenuous of opera roles — the Met seemed to have settled for a singer who could survive the ordeal.”  [NY Post]

  • MontyNostry

    Would La Cieca care to enlighten us on Mr Jorden’s reference to ‘dings’ in Voigt’s top register? How is a ding manifest?

  • MontyNostry

    • squirrel

      I saw Debbie Voigt do this in Chicago and it was SyooPERB

    • Harvey Fierstein sings!

    • RRnest Thesiger

      an sich!

  • RDaggle

    It’s a tribute to this reviewer’s craft that he can pack so much pointed writing into such a tiny, tiny space.

    Let’s hope the Post loosens up on the the word-count before the next Ring cycle hits.

  • actfive

    This is an excellent review: concise, clear, and specific. My reaction to the Sirius broadcast matches this in virtually every way, and I especially appreciate Jorden’s appraisal of the changes in Voigt’s soprano.

  • operaman50

    Great review, … although I would have been MUCH harsher on Bullock. Have I missed it, or was there EVER a NY Times review?

  • Jay

    The Brits love Bullock but her Elektra in D.C. and Brunnhildes in Toronto were pretty much washouts. Christine Goerke was a great Chyrsothemis in D.C.; why Goerke doesn’t sing more at the Met is puzzling. Or is it?

    Due to NY Post space limitations, JJ is using the Martin Bernheimer miminalist approach to reviewing? Such short reviews are one of the truest indicators of a writer’s abilities. Loved the jitterbug reference.

    Meanwhile, the Post continues to devote an inordinate amount of space to Tiger “Cheetah” Woods.

    • kashania

      I disagree. I think Bullock made a great impression with her Elektra in Toronto.

      • +1. That was a really fine night at the opera (ok, the Chrysothemis had a peculiar voice, but interesting.) Of course the size of the house was better for Bullock, whose voice is neither small nor enormous.

      • Anonymous

        Edward Seckerson said of a London performance:

        There is nothing quite as satisfying as the spectacle of Susan Bullock (Elektra) wielding the treasured axe that could dispatch her murderous mother. But her dramatic journey to the point at which she finally dons the smiling mask of death and dances for joy is riveting because not a word, not a gesture, fails to ring true. From the terrible images of death in her first scena to the disbelief that her beloved brother Orest (the excellent Johan Reuter) is alive – “a vision sweeter to me than any dream” – the richness of the word colour and her total honesty as a performer adds up to something not just exciting but genuinely moving for once. One or two anxious notes notwithstanding, Bullock shows us that you don’t have to be a screamer to play Elektra. She sings everything as beautifully, as meaningfully, as she can.

        • Camille

          Good God, is Edward Seckerson the Vicar’s day job persona?

          I’m going tomorrow and I’ll see for myself.
          Sure enough none of this came across in the broadcast.

      • kashania

        Jay, I just realised that I didn’t read your post carefully enough. You didn’t mention Bullock’s Toronto Elektra but her Brünnhilde. So, I’ll just say ditto for her Brünnhilde. ;) Seriously, putting aside the obvious issue which is that she (like most sopranos taking on the role today) doesn’t have a true hochdramatisch soprano voice, Bullock’s Brünnhilde was moving, fierce, vulnerable — most everything the role requires.

        • Jay

          Kashania, which Toronto cycle did you attend?

          I went to the final one, can be a grind for any soprano (although Eaglen was a knockout vocally in the last Seattle cycle Seattle in 2001). I don’t doubt Bullock’s dramatic commitment. But vocally, she just didn’t deliver during that third Toronto Ring cycle.

          I just went back and re-read Anne Midgette’s Elektra review at

          “Goerke stole the show…” Midgette writes. “Bullock at her first entrance appeared to be in a part that was a couple of sizes too big for her.

          “To Bullock’s credit, she has not pushed her voice out of its natural line, so that when she was called on to sing more subtly — in Elektra’s duet with her sister, and especially in the bittersweet reunion with Orest — she delivered some fine vocalism.”

          This review was based on the prima. I went to one of the very last Elektra performances and, again, Bullock may have been running out of steam.

          I’d like to hear Bullock in something other than a killer role, e.g. Jenufa, to get a better sense of what she might deliver vocally and dramatically. Based on later performances of the Toronto Ring and the Washington Elektra. the hochdramatisch repertory isn’t a good fit for her vocally.

          But, if you’ve enjoyed Bullock’s work, then “sehr gut!” (Parenthetically. I wasn’t blown away by the Met’s FTHOTD. At first I thought it was partly because I was sitting underneath the overhang. But I talked to someone else, who had a first-rate seat at the same [i.e., final] performance, and was also somewhat disappointed.)

        • kashania

          Jay, I also attended the third cycle. I should say the Toronto Ring was my first (and only) live complete cycle, though I heard Eaglen sing the role in the Met’s and Chicago’s Walkürie. IMO, The only thing that Bullock lacked (aside from a truly big voice) was grandeur.

          I should also add that I was working for the COC at the time, so I got sneak into the hall and hear individual acts of the other cycles too. So, when I recall her performances, it’s hard to single out the third cycle specifically.

          Are you thinking Jenufa or Kostelnicka?

          While I did love her Brünnhilde and Elektra in Toronto, I also had the sense that she was only going to be able to deliver in that rep for a limited amount of time. As I’ve mentioned before, she has to push her voice to its absolute limits to sing those roles and I don’t imagine her being able to do that consistently for too many years. And I would guess the Met is too big for her in those roles. Toronto probably got the best of her.

        • CruzSF

          kashania, how big is the house in Toronto?

        • kashania

          Jay: I compltelely agree about Kostenicka, Ortrud and Kundry for Bullock.

          CruzSF: Toronto’s house seats 2,000. The acoustics are really great. (And I’m not just saying that cause I spent nearly three years raising money for the building :))

    • warmke

      Goerke is the cover at the Met, Voigt was originally hired for “Frau ohne schatten”; this Elektra was what filled in it’s place, so the contracts were filled with this show instead.

      • squirrel

        oh I hope the Cher Public keeps us filled in in the case that Goerke goes on stage during this run! That would be fun to see. She’s a tremendous talent.

        • Jay

          Kashani, at this point Kostenicka would be a better fit for Bullock. We could spectulate endlessly about what roles artists should assume… Kundry and Ortrud could be future possibilities for Bullock. She has the dramatic chops for both roles. Would they fit vocally? Quien sabe?

        • Camille

          I’ll letcha Squirreley Baby, if she does!

        • Camille

          letcha KNOW, I mean.

        • Lily Bart

          Pile-on with the Goerke love! Just saw her Ortrud twice in Houston and she was great. She was nice enough to attend an after performance lecture/Q&A and she was very down to earth. Since I had never seen her before the curtain went up, I then did NOT recognize her when she entered the after meeting. A complete transformation.

  • MontyNostry

    The highlights of that London ‘Elektra’ were i) Johan Reuter’s Orest and 2) Mark Elder’s conducting. For all her skill and dedication, Bullock doesn’t really possess the stature for the part, either vocally or dramatically. (Seckerson does tend to jump on his own little bandwagons, especially if the name ‘Bernstein’ is flashed before his eyes — though obviously it wasn’t here.)

    • Regina delle fate

      Monty -- what you write is absolutely correct -- she is not a true hochdramatische, but she has cleverly found a way of singing the big roles which -- while not ideal -- has won her plaudits all over the world, not only from British critics. Her Elektras in Frankfurt were widely acclaimed by the public there. You can’t really disagree with JJ’s review because if her voice was a bit small for Covent Garden it isn’t going to be any bigger at the Met. The sound she makes under pressure can be metallic, but she also sings some phrases quite beautifully -- she is an intelligent and committed artist, certainly not one to be dismissed as a nothing by the pathological Brit-haters in here.

      • Jay

        Earlier today a poster on All That Chat, disputed that some Brits opinion that Reginald Goodall and Jascha Horenstein are respectively the world’s greatest Wagner and Mahler conductors. And no one labeled her a “pathological Brit hater”.

        I sometimes go for long periods without posting because of the vitriol that shows up on chat boards. Our doyenne has curtailed some of the worst of it here. We can disagree without launching into personal attacks.

        Spend a few days on Dealbreaker, a Wall Street chat board. I protested against the homophobia on that board and another poster replied saying I was reeking of lesions. My point: people need to be considerate of others’ opinions and not be so quick to jump to conclusions.

      • MontyNostry

        She has been very clever with her career too. Having been a bit of an also-ran for many years (probably because the voice is not beautiful or distinctive, though I can think of some very successful lyric sopranos of whom that can also be said), she is now singing the biggest roles at the biggest theatres, and getting away with it honourably — so good on her.

  • Signor Bruschino

    is the times not reviewing this?

    • kashania
      • Alto

        How is that “TT’s” review?

        • kashania

          Ha! I just assumed it was Tommasini. My bad, folks!

      • Camille

        MIRABILE DICTU! A TonyTom review without a single Husky, Dusky, or Strapping. Always sounds like a jockstrap sporting goods emporium to me when he starts in with those adjectival modifiers.

        I was thinking that if we all chipped in here at Parterre Box, we could get Tony the Oxford University Press’ Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary for Christmas/Chanukah/Chwaanza, etc. Would La Cieca provide a hat for us to throw our spare change to attain this goal?

        By the by, I like JJ’s short and snappy style in his reviews. It doesn’t wander off and start palavering away about Madame BigBoobs* in 1937, in a production of Simone Boccanegra off=off=Broadway. Sticks to the point and for someway reading a throwaway paper on the way home on the subway (which is what the Post is for me) it’s just about perfect.

        *Herva Nelli

        • Alto

          Was gibt? Did some people’s copies of the paper attribute this to Tony? What’ all this talk of him and “strapping,” and what does it have to do with Vivien S.’s review?

        • Camille

          Guess I shoulda checked first to see who authored…Me so Myopic. Vivien strikes again.
          Am I ever disappointed it wasn’t TonyTom.

          Well, we should still get him the Thesaurus if La Cieca allows.

        • MontyNostry

          I wish Andrew Porter wouldn’t drop names as much as he does. He may be very much a doyen these days (b.1928), but he gratuitously compared a soprano to Welitsch the other day, just because he actually saw Ljuba.

    • MontyNostry

      Well, I’m not sure one can really call that a review, but we can safely say that the newspaper reported on it.

      • Jay

        Reads like something a Met press agent would write, but we all the NYT is very objective re: the Met.

      • louannd

        “Jürgen Rose’s set for this dysfunctional family places the action in a ragged courtyard, with a broken statue of a horse lying on its side, perhaps alluding to Agamemnon’s death and the Trojan horse. Lights flickering through windows in the palace wall suggest the grisly action taking place within.”

        I don’t think this is finished. Maybe we should shoot the editor?

  • m. p. arazza

    Both JJ and Vivien S. had “fairy music” in the lede?

    • Gualtier M

      Takes a fairy to make it pretty -- even matricide.

  • The Vicar of John Wakefield

    “I wish Andrew Porter wouldn’t drop names as much as he does. He may be very much a doyen these days (b.1928), but he gratuitously compared a soprano to Welitsch the other day, just because he actually saw Ljuba.”

    I think it is splendid that Porter prefaces every review of a Wagner performance with his memories of having seen Hotter and Schwarzkopf in “Garden” performances for which they learned the texts in good, clean English.

    He is also a prime source for the general superiority of — among others — Sylvia Fisher, Jo Barstow, Harrison Birtwhistle and the great Jonathan Dove.

    • MontyNostry

      Dove’s Pinocchio soon outstayed its welcome as far as I was concerned, but the UK critics treated it as some kind of masterpiece. The production was quite fun, but the opera was at least 30% too long and the music unmemorable. It just sort of chugged along much of the time.

  • tannengrin

    read quickly, it looked as if JJ had called Felicity Palmer ‘husky’. Which would have been a lot(t)!

  • arepo

    Being an “Elektra newbie” could some kind person please tell me, if it’s too much for Bullock to handle, who of today’s crop of singers could do the part justice?

    • kashania

      You asked a mouthful!

    • Often admonished

      This was probably the last listenable one (Berlin 2005)

      and some girls will complain that it’s not big enough.

      • Camille

        Paging Often Admonished…!

        ‘An error occurred…’ could you please identify this Elektra?


        n.b. = I shall not attend tonight’s MET Elektra, as I am still recovering from the effects of illness and tonight’s performance of Elektra shall be broadcast on Sirius, in case anyone cares to know. Perhaps the Good Lady Bullock shall have recovered from First Night Jitters and make a stronger case for herself. Here’s hoping so. OR, perhaps we may be the recepients of Deborah Voigt’s totally surprise debut in the part of Elektra, subbing for her indisposed colleague. Voyons, amis.

        • Often admonished

          …it’s Elizabeth Connell (Berlin 2005)

        • Often admonished

          big Liz said: “I particularly like singing Elektra because you can really let your hair down and any issues you had with your mother you can work out on stage … and get paid for it”

        • Camille

          that’s okay — i found out for myself.

          having long been a Liz Connell fan I was a teeny bit disappointed, but she is getting on, so i guess it’s okay. think i liked the hoodieElektra better. lots more fun.

        • Camille

          oh gee, oftenadmonished, thank you for your kind reply; i didn’t receive it in time.

          what Liz Connell says is so. i have a fond memory of her Isolde @ Carnegie, unfortunately she was ill that day, either with a fever or terminal hot flashes, it wasn’t clear. however, she sure did have the temperament in spades. admirable artiste, always.

        • this is a much better example of the Connell phenomenon. I’ve posted this a few months earlier, but always happy to repost what I consider some fabulous and highly articulate Wagner singing. The voice isn’t very “big” but it cuts the orchestral fabric because it’s so concentrated. And the superb technique allows her to be very precise with pitch, dynamics and legato. Some beautiful messe di voce, a true trill. This girl knows something about singing. And just see the easiness of that top C in 3:20!! I think she should be around 60 by now.

        • sorry i meant --

        • kashania

          CerquettiFarrell: Thank you so much for that. I agree that it is a better representation of her singing than the Elektra clip. And you’re so right about that perfect (first) high C and a real trill leading up to it. Throughout, the ease of her singing was remarkable.

      • kashania

        Thanks. I had only heard of Connelly by name before. She’s vocally more suited to the role but I think Bullock is the more interesting performer.

        On a different note, I never knew that Flagstad recorded any of Elektra’s music:

        • MontyNostry

          I think she’s Liza to her friends — and I believe she has been a lupus sufferer, poor thing, but she seems to be in pretty good form for a veteran, even if the voice lacks a thrill in the tone.

      • Connell was very effective in this. The only name springing to my mind are Jennifer Wilson, who’s still too young to tackle the role -- I see she’s singing a lot of Aidas which is good -- and Irene Theorin, of course. Can’t think of anybody else….

        • Camille

          Mmes. Cerquetti/Farrell:
          This is in response to your posting of the Siegfried duet with Liz Connell.

          Yes, I listened to it some time back, and was pleased to listen to it again. I could never figure out, during the reign of the prime of Miss Jane Eaglen, why Connell had been shuttered out, as she is infinitely more interesting a singer. Quite a C in alt for an obviously no longer young singer, who started as a mezzo. She is upwards of sixty, now, I believe and subbed for ENO -- I think -- in Turandot sometime earlier this year and did extremely well. Keep on, keeping on, Mme. Connell. You got the real stuff and prettiness and dress styling, BE DAMNED!

        • This is the Turandot clip from earlier this year. In an interview Connell said that she refrained from singing Turandot because she thought it wasn’t right for her. Around sixty she thought it might be fun, after having sung all the major hochdramatische roles. Well, it’s far from perfect, but always spot on pitch-wise. Remember she jumped to replace I forgot who at the very last minute.

  • Harry

    Oh! Vicar….Porter praising that Birtwhistle and his crappy compositions! Some critics just love to name drop, and are but plagiarizing ‘farts’ wishing to IMPRESS in print. Prefaced of course with a typical comment like ‘when I last spoke to….’ The Gramophone magazine as an example over the years, was full of them. A day never went past without one of them claiming to have met this or that singer and inferring being on close speaking terms.
    Yet, one has quietly met performers, many now forgotten as time goes on, who never proclaimed their remarkable experiences off the rooftops….
    Willing to open up and share their memories in conversation with those they felt, were totally ‘genuinely bewitched’ by Opera as sheer music….essential to one’s every day living…. and not for the exploitative spin offs / cultural glamor connections , some associate, with Opera. I know a elderly former opera singer that was able to determine his parents took him to the opera in Paris around the start of he 1930’s to see Tetrazzini sing in Rigoletto. He remembers Rigoletto dropping in grief on his knees as the curtain finally fell. He was later told: he had exclaimed to them, “why didn’t I know about this ( meaning Opera, itself), before?”. Later in life , of having lessons from the great Wagnerian Florence Austral and of her perfect sense of diction .Then singing with the likes Marjorie Lawrence and Lina Pagliughi while still in his youth.
    Growing up myself, one heard old people describe the experience that they had actually heard Melba live. What was common was the description of the voice as some sort of ‘pure crystal bell’. Such given personal recollections by others, no doubt used by many of us in the situation: when we listen to such singers. How many of us consider , when we decide to listen to some long forgotten singer we are in fact, creating a temporarily memorial altar of our own / ‘a majority of one’ so to speak, to that singer?

  • On an issue remotely concerning this thread, just found a clip of Ewa Podles singing Klyt. I so do not like this. Everything is wrong IMHO -- the basic sound, the style, the lifting up to nots, the wrong accentuation on the final syllable, the total lack of idiomatic understanding of the language. Extremely one dimensional and unconvincing IMHO

    • Camille


      Really, I was not able to clearly make out enough to hear her, other than just some sort of sounds, but thank you very much for posting.

      I would find it surprising, however, if it were entirely one-dimensional, as she did manage to make La Cieca (no relation to our Beloved Doyenne!) a real and credible character on stage, last year, in the MET’s Gioconda. That is a considerable feat as La Cieca is usually rather pallid and lackluster, a sort of cardboard mommy figure. Just Camille’s take on it, that’s all. Camille doesn’t have a IMHO, she only has her opinion, which is not humbe at all, I fear.

      • It’s just totally out of style, I think. And there IS such a thing as Straussian style. And it’s not about shouting either.

        • Camille

          Shouting is all you usually get in Elektra, and most certainly, yes, there is a Straussian style, but all bets are off in Elektra!

          I could not make out sufficiently what was going on to say -- not one word came over my laptop, so I could not form an idea. My reference to the dimensional quality of her singing is only in relation to that which I heard in La Gioconda last year.

  • arepo

    Being that no one can seem to answer my question on #12, would it be better NOT to stage a production of a long missed opera rather than go ahead and do it with the best (though lacking) results possible despite all the criticism?

    • Camille

      oh Jeepers, Sr. Arepo,
      that’s so bad that your question posed at the outset should be ignored, and forgive us all for the digressions. I can only say that stagings are done all the time, whether or not the Messiah appears for a particular opera. That is well as it should be, as the works themselves should be heard, no matter what the singing is. Look at the case of Hamlet (Ambroise Thomas opera, that is) last done here in the 19th century, and being exhumed for Mme. Dessay. Why should it have waited this long? It’s no better or worse than many operas and affords the singers a lot of in good opportunities to show their stuff.

      The question you pose is thorny and many-sided and there are no good, final, nor complete answers. The style of singing has drastically changed over the years, so we will just have to accustom ourselves to what the marketplace allows us to hear, as it is, make no mistake, all marketplace driven.

      If I were you, go over to the Elektra excerpt (think it’s over on the Kill Aegisth, Vol. 2 thread), and look at Ms. Eva Johannson. That’s maybe representative of the new crop. Ms. Connell, estimable artist that she has been, is in her sixties now, and there can’t be a lot of electricity left in her. Last year, Deborah Polaski, now sixty, exhibited her Elektra at the Philharmonic, and amazingly, sang it better than when she was here some years before at the Met.

      Just persevere, and keep on listening. Go get many records and listen and listen to many singers, some old ones first; well, there’s alway the monumental Nilsson which really can’t be topped in so many ways, and there is the marvelous but problematical Inge Borkh, and the great but not always pleasant to listen to Astrid Varnay — they are all the old guard. There is a recording of Alessandra Marc with
      Deborah Voigt, from the last decade, for instance — shame she’s faded out. Just dig in and shop around and form your own opinions, as in the end, they are the ones that will matter most to you.

      Sorry to be a Yenta, but it IS pretty damn confusing and hard to figure out in the beginning.

      Sincerely and with good wishes,

    • Maybe go ahead and try staging it after all because
      1) It’s one of the most profound and interesting operas within the entire operatic cannon, and not just a batterd cheval de bataille (a la Tosca, kill me)?
      2) It almost always is a deeply moving and shattering experience, almost regardless of the inadequacies of the cast
      3) It tends to bring out the best of the performers, regardless of their ability to do justice to the vocal writing.
      4) It’s a total experience and real frisson can be created by the conductor, who is the most important figure of the evening. Luisi and the met orchestra proved my point, for judging by radio standards, I thought it WAS a great evening, and I certainly know my Elektra. I started listening around 3:00 AM (I live in Tel Aviv) and couldn’t bring myself to stop in the middle and go to sleep. It kept hunting my mind throught the next day.

      • haunting my mind, that is

        • Camille

          It’s on again tonight and I’m sure it will be hunting my mind!

          Thanks for the little clip of Connell’s Turandot. Remarkable and I wish she were singing here more. Perhaps she is busy enough where she is and has no need of this side of the pond. It has been a shame for us.

        • Oy vey, is it possible to record the transmission or something? i’d love to capture it somehow. And can’t afford yet another notte di somnambulismo

        • Camille

          This is in response to Mmes. Cerquetti/Farrell’s missal/plea in below.

          Alas, I cannot help you out and I am disposed to do so, however I have never learned to burn a CD, so 19th century am I.

          There is only one future broadcast, the matinee (@ 1:00 p.m. EDT) on the 26th. Perhaps by then someone could help you out by making a copy or even you could yourself.

          I will give a report tomorrow on this same thread, should you care to hear anymore.

          I am sorry not to be able to accommodate you, after sharing all those nice clips. Perhaps someone else has the capability??


  • rogwood

    #12 & #15 Dear arepo, in addition to the mentioned Theorin, who has not sung the role, and Johansson, whose Elektra is available on DVD, I’d like to add another Scandinavian. Swedish soprano Katarina Dalayman very successfully made her debut in the role Saturday in Stockholm. Dalayman sang beautifully, expressively and lyrically while also being (surprisingly) secure throughout the upper range of the vocal line. Indeed, Elektra seemed easier for her than Salome and the part sits very well for her voice.

    • MontyNostry

      Would I be right in thinking that Elektra as a whole doesn’t sit as high as Salome? Salome bashes away at the upper-middle voice doesn’t it, while Elektra has occasional explosive excursions into the top register (eg that fabulous “Sei verflucht!”). Salome doesn’t have a top C, though, does she?

      • The tessitura aint that different but most of Salome’s high notes are pianissimo and are softly scored, whereas Elektra usually has to compete with the full might of the orchestra. The only comparable place is in Salome’s final apotheosis. But the use of the voice is mostly different. The Elektra writing resembles Salome only in the recognition scene. Otherwise, Salome shares many similarities with Chrysothemis, in terms of vocal writing and surrounding orchestration. Dyer’s Wife and Elektra are vocal sisters whereas Salome, Chrysothemis and Die Kaiserin are sisters too.

        • MontyNostry

          CF, you are the Allwissende Muschel (somewhat lower tessitura …)

        • hmphhh, meinst du es tueckisch ?

        • rogwood

          CF, very well described! Maybe I should clarify that Dalayman sang Salome in Stockholm a couple of years ago and she did not come across as comfortable in the role. Dalayman’s high notes obviously need more forte though she sang the upper range of Elektra more softly and securely than Brünnhilde in Siegfried and Götterdämmerung, partly indicating that she is developing into a better singer.

        • MontyNostry

          No, CF, ich sag’ was wahr ist.

        • Regina delle fate

          Well the Dyer’s Wife was written for Lotte Lehmann who never sang Elektra. Equally, Christa Ludwig, one of the great Färberins, never sang Elektra either. Inge Borkh was the best performer of both roles, but she wasn’t really a true hochdramatische as she never sang Brünnhilde or Isolde. For me, Borkh remains the best Elektra of the recording era, in her commercial recording with Böhm for DG but also in countless pirate recordings. I don’t think Nilsson sang the role more beatifully.

        • richard

          I agree, two very memorable Farberins were Borkh
          and Ludwig. Borkh wasn’t too good when I heard her sing the role at the Met but Ludwig was.

          Borkh is about my favorite recorded Elektra, I rather have that kind of approach than the more massive one of Nilsson or some of the later heavy lifting screamers such as Schnaut or Mastilovic. Both of those simply sounded ugly to me. Nilsson was certainly better but rather cold sounding.

          Of recent Elektras, i was very much impressed with Polaski, actually I perferred to her performance to Nilsson, Jones, Behrens, and Schroeder-Feinen.

          Perhaps the greatest Elektra between the two world wars was the Hungarian soprano Rose Pauly, who left a slightly abridged broadcast.
          Pauly makes her effects by phrasing, expression, and use of the texts rather than heaving giant boulders of sound around. She made a fabulous recording of the awakening scene from Egyptian Helen to give an idea of what her other roles were.

          With Varnay and later Nilsson, the orchestras were able to play louder and audiences were looking for a different, heavier kind of sound.
          The problem really is Strauss orchestration, he wanted it played lightly but it is just two tempting to play it full out and it makes it difficult for lighter voiced Elektra’s to make an effect.

        • Camille

          Mmes. C/F,
          an ever so slight modificaiton of that schwesterhood is needed: actually, Die Kaiserin is listed in the Kloiber faecher book as a role for Dramatisch Koloratursopran, ergo, it is just an mite above and more florid than dis Schwesterin Chrysothemis und Salome. She’s perhaps more like a close or kissing cousin. Suits her otherworldly nature, do you not think?

          Thanks very much again for all your wonderful posts as it is now well established that I am too retro to post myself becaue I am accustomed to having my minions do so for me. JUMP SKLAVE!

  • arepo

    Rogwood and Camille (you sure live up to your dramatic name!) thanks both for your interesting feedback on my query. (no pun intended)

  • Krunoslav

    Rose Pauly was Hungarian the way Rosa Raisa was Polish and Alexander Kipnis Ukrainian. Eastern Europeans see, and certainly saw in the mid 20th century, Jews as being Jews, an ethnicity.

    The Viennese did not pelt Pauly and Friedrich Schorr with rotten fruit at FLIEGENDE HOLLAENDER performances in 1938 because they were “Hungarian”. I think it’s an injustice to mislabel these artists, as Michael Scott consistently does-- he only identifies singers as Jews if he doesn’t like them , as in the case of Jadlowker, with his supposedly “alien” technique.

    • richard

      Krunoslav, Pauly referred to herself as Hungarian in an Opera Snooze interview with her about 40 years ago.
      She also obviously considered herself Jewish ( the interview took place in Israel as I remember) and she spoke of being pelted with rotten oranges because she was Jewish by anti-semetic audiences in Europe in the 30s.

      It was quite an interesting interview, it stayed with me for many years and made me curious of what her singing was like. Many years later I heard some of her recordings, including the Elektra performance, which I found very impressive.

  • Krunoslav

    Did anyone hear the one (1) Met performance of Brenda Roberts as the Dyer’s Wife in 1981?