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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 291


ELEKTRA IN DRESDEN
   "Whose blood .... ? Out from your throat
   Then she declaims her prophetic vision of the day of vengeance:
   "You would cry out, but the air dead strangles the unborn cry ..
   And all is silent, and you hear your heart
   Knock at your ribs . . . This time is given you that you
may envy
   All that are chained to prison walls
   Because you lie imprisoned in yourself . .
   And I stand there before you and you cannot take your eyes from
mine.
   And you read too late  . . the word unspeakable written upon
my face, because my face is mingled of your features and my father's,
   For your soul is hung within its self-hung noose . . .
   Then do you dream no more, then do I need to dream no more.
   In utter collapse and panic Clytemnestra shrieks for light. The
attendants come running with torches-an indescribable realism
of musical description-until the place is flooded with light and
Clytemnestra, nursing some reassuring wicked thought, withdraws
smiling and muttering. Then to Elektra left alone Chrysothemis
comes with news of Orestes's death. Elektra, in anguish, repeats
over and over, "It is not true." But when compelled to accept the
cruel truth, the dominant purpose asserts itself and she says, "we
two must do it." Then with all the affection that she has withheld
from her sister since the tragedy, she tries to compel her to assistance
in the deed. But in the end Chrysothemis breaks from her crying,
"I cannot." And as Elektra stands looking after her, she raises
her hands and cries in a terrible voice, "Be accursed!"  As Krull
utters that imprecation-she does not sing it-it is a thing to make
one shudder, yet not as at Salome, for the great artist makes of Elektra
a being raised above personal consideration, like an instrument of
the gods.
   She faces the situation, "Then again alone." She kneels on the
ground and begins to dig for the axe with which the crime was com-
mitted and with which it must be avenged. As she claws in the earth
a strange man enters. Then the music softens into solemn beauty.
Eleictra, discovering him, begs him to leave her, but he says, "I must
wait here," "Wait," she repeats, arrested by his tone, but
she turns
from him again to her task. He begins talking of her brother, saying
that he was his friend. He asks her name and when she tells him,
exclaims in horror, "Elektra!" "He thinks he can insult me,"
Elektra replies, bitterly, "because I have no father . . nor broth-
er." Then Orestes cries, "The dogs in the court knew-me and my
sister not! "
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