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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 293

geance, music descriptive of the womanly nature of Chrysothemis,
of the shining of the jewels that consoled Clytemnestra, the triumph
of Elektra, and her dance.
   Episodes of striking beauty are Elektra's tragic apostrophe to her
dead father, the lovely melodies in the scene between the sisters and
in the scene between Elelctra and Orestes. The music descriptive
of Orestes's supposed death is deeply expressive of Elektra's anguish.
The tonal picture of Clytemnestra's dream is full of shudders and hor-
rors. The exhuming of the axe and the realism of the sacrificed
animals are inexpressibly gruesome. The passages depicting Cly-
temnestra's death are fitly descriptive of the Nemesis overtaking that
terrible person, and with true dramatic sense Strauss has made
the death of Aegisthus weaker, as he was a weaker and more futile
   Just how much the effect of the opera owes to Frau Krull's extra-
ordinary Elektra Richard Strauss fully appreciates. It was after
seeing her Salome performance that he requested that she should be
the interpreter of Elelctra, and later, not being satisfied with the Berlin
Elektra, he asked to have Krull in Berlin. There she received an unpre-
cedented ovation even from the partisan Berliners. It is safe to say,
all things considered, that the operatic stage has never seen a more
extraordinary performance. The opera is not only given in one
unbroken act, but the role of Elektra, aside from the unimaginable
difficulties of the music, is longer than the part of Brunnhilde in
"Die Gitterdimmerung" and "Siegfried" combined. Yet Krull
carries it through climaxes of progressive and varied intensity to the
final climax. She is terrible as she has not been before at the supreme
moment when she paces like a panther before the closed door behind
which the vengeance is being accomplished. And at the last, in the
dance-words fail in the attempt to describe that strange and fearful
expression of the accomplished purpose.
   When he had first seen this dance at rehearsal, Strauss demanded
of Krull, "Kind, who has taught you that?"       She responded-
how simply one can imagine after meeting her-" I thought it out
myself."  And no wonder Strauss replied, "It is a miracle."
says that when she was preparing the role, not being a dancer,
she sent for the ballet instructor to teach her a dance, but that she
could not feel that the steps suggested were the right thing for her
that terrible moment, and so-she thought it out herself. That dance
alone is upon the plane of classic tragedy. It is a thing to freeze
the blood, and it is beautiful enough in its intangible terrible fashion
to be the figment of a dream.

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