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Kirsten Flagstad – “Orest….Orest” – “Elektra” – R. Strauss – 1952 – George Sebastian Conductor

by Luca

Kirsten Flagstad sings ” Orest….Orest” from Elektra by Richard Strauss. Orchestra of the “Städtische Oper”, Berlin.
M.° Georges Sebastian, conductor. 1952.
“Elektra” is a one-act opera by Richard Strauss, to a German-language libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal, which he adapted from his 1903 drama “Elektra”. The opera was the first of many collaborations between Strauss and Hofmannsthal. It was first performed at the Dresden State Opera on January 25, 1909.
“Elektra” is musically complex and difficult, and requires great stamina for the singers and orchestra. The role of Elektra is one of the most demanding in the dramatic soprano repertoire.
Despite being based on ancient Greek mythology, the opera is highly modernist and expressionist. Hofmannsthal and Strauss’s adaptation of the story focuses tightly on Elektra, thoroughly developing her character by single-mindedly expressing her emotions and psychology as she meets with other characters mostly one at a time. The other characters are Klytaemnestra, Elektra’s mother and murderer of Agamemnon, Elektra’s father; her brother Orestes; and her sister Chrysothemis. All three show little development and are secondary to the story. Everything else from the ancient story is minimized as background to Elektra’s character and her obsession. Other aspects of the ancient story are completely excluded, tightening the focus on Elektra’s furious lust for revenge. The result is a very modern, expressionistic retelling of the ancient Greek myth. Compared to Sophocles’s Electra, the opera presents raw, brutal, violent, and bloodthirsty horror.
It is regularly performed and, today, the opera is the most frequently performed opera based on classical Greek mythology.