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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 292


ELEKTRA IN DRESDEN
    The ensuing scene is one of real pathos and musical beauty.
 Orestes is overcome, realizing all she has suffered, and Eleictra an-
 swers:
    "Do not touch me          I am ashamed before you.
    I am but the corpse of your sister
    Poor child  . . I know you shudder at me. And yet-
    I was the daughter of a king and I believe that I was beautiful
    And my hair, such hair as men tremble at.-"
    Orestes tells her that he has come to do the deed, and as they talk
 the faithful old servant who has accompanied him runs in with the
 news that the queen is alone and Orestes rushes into the palace. Then
 Elektra realizes that she has not given him the axe and cries out in
 anguish, "I cannot give him the axe! He is gone and I cannot give
 him the axe! There are no gods in heaven." Then there is in-
 describable pandemonium in the music, descriptive of the murder.
 Clytemnestra s death cry rings out, and Elektra's terrible words
 "Strike again!" She paces before the closed door, keeping off
the
 terrified maids that rush into the court, but hearing. Aegisthus ap-
 broach they run off again. Elektra asks Aegisthus if she may light
 im to the palace door. The exultation, the subdued triumph of
 Elektra at this moment, the strange steps that she begins to take, that
 seem somehow part of her subtle words-the beginning of her weird
 dance-are all extraordinarily expressed in the orchestra.
    A moment later Aegisthus appears at the window crying, "Help,
they murder me. . Does no one hear me?"       And in a voice des-
tined to ring in one's ears for long afterwards, Elektra replies,
"Agamemnon hears you!" Then Orestes stabs Aegisthus at the
window and pulls him back within, and Chrysothemis rushes in,
telling how all the people in the palace are crowding about Orestes
and kissing his feet. But Eleletra has begun to slip from the world
of reality. "Be silent and dance," she says. "One thing remains
for those who are as happy as we,-to be silent and dance."   And
she begins to dance, but after a moment sinks upon the floor lifeless.
The curtain falls upon Chrysothemis beating upon the closed door
calling, "Orestes."
HERE are forty-five leading motives noted in the official "Fuh-
      rer," the shortest being that of Elektra's ever-present remem-
      brance of Agamemnon, which is combined in certain passages
of great beauty. Other noticeable themes are those of the axe, the
trailing and slipping of the sacrificial animals, Clytemnestra's dream
and fear of death, the subtle hypocrisy of Elektra with her mother, a
theme signifying Elektra's royal nature, Eleictra's prophecy of ven-
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