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Subject: Re: Met Broadcasts We Wish We Had
From: Rich Lowenthal <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Rich Lowenthal <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 11 Sep 2017 09:41:12 -0400

text/plain (112 lines)

Apologies for the pedantry, but Rose Pauly sang two non-Elektras at the Met:
Venus in Tannhauser and Ortrud in Lohengrin. The Tannhauser was a broadcast.

What seems strangest to me about the pairing of Elektra with Menotti is that
for a couple of performances Elektra was performed first. I really don't
know how you can dare to perform another opera after Elektra. 

-----Original Message-----
From: Discussion of opera and related issues
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of G. Paul Padillo
Sent: Monday, September 11, 2017 9:30 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Met Broadcasts We Wish We Had

I know the Met had to pick and choose which operas it broadcast during the
earlier years of it  "broadcast season," but sometimes the choices left me
perplexed, particularly in those seasons long before my time.

The 1938/39 season sounded like a dream to me, how some operas were left off
the list is beyond my comprehension.  Broadcasts that season - including TWO
of Tristan included, Mignon, Lucia, Hansel, Pagliacci, Rosenkavalier, Don
Giovani, Simon Boccanegra, Louise, Aida, Boheme, Manon, Rigoletto, Trovatore
and Barbiere.  What did not receive broadcasts was a list nearly as long,
including Thais, Boris Godunov, Parsifal, all four Ring operas,
Meistersinger, Salome, and most egregious - in my opinion, Elektra, with
Rose Pauly in one of her few Met appearances, not inconsequentially, all of
them as Elektra.  (NOTE:  As was the custom, shorter works like Salome,
Elektra, etc., frequently got "tagged on" 
performances of other shorter works; in this season's case, Elektra was
partnered with Menotti's charming "Amelia Goes to the Ball.")

It's an even particularly more noteworthy gaff when one reads the reviews.
Here is Lawrence Gilman's for the Herald Tribune (he also praised, highly,
Menotti's opera).

"Richard Strauss's prodigious "Elektra," which was heard at the Metropolitan
last night for the first time this season, retains its stature as a
masterpiece - as one of the outstanding lyric-dramas composed since Wagner's

Probably the work will continue to seem anomalous to the tender-minded. 
And it is true that Hofmannsthal and Strauss have given us here something
startlingly different from the conventionally imagined replicas of antique
Greek tragedy. Elektra, the very type and image of incarnate hate - a
ragged, glaring, disheveled . shrieking her exhortations, snarling in the
shadows, dwelling among the dogs in the courtyard like a hunted and degraded
demon; Klytemestra, a loathsome apparition with her ghastly pallor and her
somnambulistic tread, the symbol of an unimaginable depravity - the dark
door, as Elektra cries out of which she, her daughter crawled into the
world's light; these conceptions seem remote indeed from what we choose to
think of as their classic prototypes.

Yet the heart and essence of the ancient tale are embodied in the music-
drama of Hofmannsthal and Strauss. The dramatist and the musician have not
forgotten that the flame which purifies the tragedy is Elektra's
unquenchable and agonizing grief and her consuming passion for retribution;
that this agony and grief have made her the living instrument of a holy
cause; and that her degradation and her rags are worn as the spotless
raiment of princess who is still the daughter of a king.

We have heard in New York a number of different Elektras since the work was
first performed here at Mr. Hammerstein's Manhattan Opera House almost
thirty years ago; but none of them save the latest, the Metropolitan's Rose
Pauly, has succeeded in lifting the character of the heroine in the
imaginative and spiritual level upon which its authors intended it to move.
Mme. Pauly does this, and does it with transfiguring intensity and truth, so
that the grandeur and nobility of Elektra's spirit fill the drama and its
music with the exaltation of its sublimating tenderness and grief.

Mme. Pauly was never more compelling in her exertion of this transmuting
power than she was last night; and her acting and singing at the great
moment of the Recognition Scene was a prime example of the ability of a
supreme interpreter to give a new significance and beauty in thrice-familiar
works of art. Various Elektras had sung the rising two-note phrase (B flat-E
flat) in which Elektra voices her incredulous repetitions of Orestes' name' 
but none other had ever charged it with so revealing a poignancy of
achievement. Mme. Pauly heightened the beauty and significance of a great
role and of the masterpiece whose meaning it conveys.

Mme. Pauly's principal companions in the cast had taken part in last
season's performances of "Elektra." Chief among them was Kerstin Thorborg's
embodiment of the pathological and monstrous Klytemnestra, bloated and
heavy-lidded, corrupt and horrible, in her scarlet dress bedecked with
precious stones and amulets, complaining of her broken sleep and her
tormented dreams, shaking with terror and superstitious dread. The Orestes
of Mr. Schorr was an eloquent contribution to the effect of the
overmastering scene with Eklektra, perhaps the noblest and most moving in
Strauss's works.

Mr. Bodanzky's direction of the exacting score could scarcely be over-
praised, and the orchestra played better than at any recent performances
that I have heard. In those pages wherein the music compasses a lofty pathos
and a releasing grief, the fervor and devotion of the conductor and his men
were irresistible."

Talk about a missed opportunity!


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