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The craftsman
Vol. XVII, Number 3 (December 1909)

Roof, Katharine M.
Elektra in Dresden: Richard Strauss's latest opera,   pp. 281-295 PDF (5.0 MB)


Page 281


ELEKTRA IN DRESDEN: RICHARD STRAUSS'S
LATEST OPERA: BY KATHARINE M. ROOF
OING to the opera in New York at its most luxurious
is not a restful experience, whether one is in the crush
of cabs, cars or foot passengers; but in Dresden, which
is another world, you go in the Green Bus. It is
possible to go in a cab, of course, and you can hardly
live so far away that it will cost more than fifteen
              cents, il you are determine upon sucn extravagance;
but while some take cars and others walk, the majority unquestion-
ably go in the Green Bus, which is drawn by one large competent
horse and passes with solemnity through the central thoroughfare
of Dresden. It costs two cents and leaves you in the great paved
Platz before the opera house and the castle and the court church,
with the river at the right behind the Italienishes D6rfchen, now a
restaurant, but over two centuries ago the homes of the Italian
workmen brought to Dresden by the Italian architect who built the
Schloss for Augustus the Strong.
   Dresden has not the spell of Munich. It is a gentle and, at first
glance, perhaps rather a tame little city, yet it has its individuality
and its charm, and its honorable artistic past. Even before the days
of von Schuch-far more conservative days than these in the Father-
land-the Saxon city had the reputation of being willing to give the
young composer a chance. Not only have Strauss's last three operas
had their first production in Dresden, but also long ago, Wagner's
"Fliegende HolltInder," his first revolutionary work. The present
king unfortunately takes little interest in the opera. The queen,
on the contrary, was extremely fond of it, but now that she is gone
the Royal box is usually empty.
   It is an experience that lingers in the memory, the slow jog up
the little street which is not too brightly lighted so that the castle
walls and the stone arches you drive under seem somber and myste-
rious, and the light flashes dramatically on the sentry as you pass.
On the other side of the castle it is lighter with the wide space of sky
and the lights from the river. People are walking across the square
toward the opera house from every direction, in groups and in pairs,
yet there is no rush. Dresden is the only city in the world, I believe,
where it is within the limits of extreme conventionality for women of
any age or nationality to go to the opera alone.
   So the Green Bus leaves you in the peaceful gray square beside
the quiet river, and you pass-a far journey-into that alien world
wrought out of the imaginations of ancient Greece and modern
Germany.
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