Since neither my forays into obscure Dvorák and Leoncavallo were very successful (Vanda actually had more “listens” than La bohème!), I think the sturdier of you will enjoy Nina Stemme’s Elektra from Saturday night at Wiener Staatsoper.  Unfortunately, Anne Schwanewilms cancelled the entire run, so Ricarda Merbeth stepped into her puffy white dress.

I wish the prima had been broadcast, which ended with some of the loudest booing I have ever heard in that house, coming not just from the gallery but the entire audience.  The catcalls were directed not at the singers but at conductor Mikko Franck (Franz Welser-Möst had been scheduled, but, well, you know…) but more so for the ridiculous production by Uwe Eric Laufenberg, set in the basement of a Viennese townhouse in 1910.  Elektra wears a man’s suit.  A paternoster recycles dead bodies for the last 10 minutes of the opera, where a dozen young couples dressed in 1950s pastels suddenly appear and begin to dance, calmly at first and then some frenzied jitterbugging. Somehow Elektra disappeared in all of this, as do the dancers eventually, leaving Chrysothemis alone to watch bodies spin by.  (Orest is dead as is everybody else in the cast…

Richard Strauss: Elektra

Wiener Staatsoper
Mikko Franck, conductor
04 April 2015

Elektra – Nina Stemme
Klytämnestra – Anna Larsson
Chrysothemis – Ricarda Merbeth
Orest – Falk Struckmann
Aegisth – Norbert Ernst
Aufseherin – Donna Ellen
1. Magd – Monika Bohinec
2. Magd – Ilseyar Khayrullova
3. Magd – Ulrike Helzel
4. Magd – Caroline Wenborne
5. Magd – Ildikó Raimondi
Vertraute – Simina Ivan
Schleppträgerin – Aura Twarowska
Junger Diener – Thomas Ebenstein
Alter Diener – Marcus Pelz
Pfleger des Orest – Wolfgang Bankl