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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 290


ELEKTRA IN DRESDEN
ficed herself to her purpose, so would she sacrifice her sister, who
craves only to live the common life of woman.
    Chrysothemis warns Elektra that Clytemnestra is planning to fling
her into a dark tower. She reproaches her, saying, "If it were not
for you they would have let us out. . I will out-
   I will be a woman and live a woman's life.
   Better death than to live and not live."
   Then Elektra with terrible words vainly tries to awaken the feel-
ing of vengeance in her sister. Chrysothemis, hearing her mother
approach, flees, begging Elektra to hide because Clytemnestra has
been frightened by a dream of Orestes. "She scatters death in every
glance," Chrysothemis exclaims, fearfully.
   Elektra says: "I sent the dream to her from out my breast . . .
I lie and hear the feet of him who follows her. . "
HE music announcing the appearance of Clytemnestra is an
      unimaginable savage clamor expressive of her distorted nature,
      violent crimes and disordered brain-the description of one
who is no weakling in sin. The sound of the dragging of the sacri-
ficial beasts to the altar, the lashings of the whip, are all depicted in
the orchestra. Clytemnestra enters in a flare of torches held by her
attendants. She is haggard and heavy eyed, but covered with jewels
and protective charms. In the interview that follows, Elektra with
inhuman subtlety leads her into self-betrayal; for superstitious, al-
most unbalanced from fear and sleeplessness, Clytemnestra is ready
to take any advice. She sends her attendants away that she may talk
alone with Elektra. She tells her her dream-described with fear-
some music. Elektra tells her that in order to rid herself of this
dream another blood sacrifice must be made upon the altar.
   "With what consecrated animal ?" Clytemnestra asks, and with
unholy laughter Elektra replies, "With an unconsecrated."  Elektra
traps her into conversation about the brother, then says suddenly,
"You are afraid of him. . you are trembling."         Clytemnestra
evades and denies, saying that she had sent gold so that he might
be treated as a king's son. Elektra turns upon her: "You lie; you
sent the gold that they might kill him." Clytemnestra gasps, "Who
says that ?" And, Elektra replies, "I see it in your eyes . . and
in your trembling I see that he still lives."
    Clytemnestra passes from bravado to threats ending in babble:
    "Dreams are things that we must rid ourselves of . . . .
    I will find out whose blood must flow, that I may sleep."
    Then Elektra, like a thing not human, leaps upon her from the
shadow of the wall.
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