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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 289


ELEKTRA IN DRESDEN
vants of the queen,-push her out, she calls back at them, "You are
not worthy to breathe the same air with her. Oh, that I could see
you all hanged that have done this thing to her!"
   The maids continue their malicious gossip. "And when she sees
us with our children,-she cries, 'naught can be so accursed as children
born in this house where the steps have run with blood.' "
   Then they tumble out in a chattering heap as Elektra comes out
and stands in the door alone. Her hair is disordered and she is clad
in tattered gray garments the color of the stone wall to which she
clings. After the tumult of discordant realism in the preceding scene,
Elektra's tragic apostrophe to her dead father, conveyed with all the
emotional appeal of such a voice as Krull's, comes with an effect of
profound human pathos.
   "Alone, alone  . . Agamemnon           Where art thou, father?
   Hast thou not the power to show me thy face-
   It is the hour, our hour,
   The hour when they murdered thee. .
   Agamemnon, father-I will see thee-
   Leave me not alone. . "
   She passes into a prophetic picture of the day of vengeance,-
   "And in one wave shall their life's life gush out of them
   And we will slaughter thy horses       and gather them about
thy grave.
   And they shall inhale the wind of death and die-
   And we will slaughter the dogs . . . that hunted with thee
and would lick thy feet
   Therefore must their blood be shed for thee.
   And we, we three, thy blood,
   Thy son Orestes, and thy daughters, when all is done  .
will dance about thy grave, and I will lift knee after knee above the
head of the dead, step by step."
   (Here comes the first intimation of Elektra's terrible dance with
which the tragedy ends.)
   "And all who see me dance-
   Yea, all who see my shadow dancing from afar shall say:
   Behold, how great a king holds high festival of his flesh and
blood."
   As the singer stands with uplifted arms in that moment of vision,
she seems no longer a woman, a human being, but a purpose. She has
passed from the individual to the abstract; she is an embodied idea.
   Chrysothemis calls Elektra from the door, but Elektra turns
from her, shuddering, struck by a resemblance to the mother, for all
human feeling has been crushed out of Elektra. As she has sacri-
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