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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 294


ELEKTRA IN DRESDEN
F   RAU KRULL has not only a beautiful voice with a marked
rindividuality of tone as well as an unusual gift of emotional ex-
     pression, but what is most rare in Germany-and alas every-
where !-a fine vocal art. Only this art can have saved her voice from
permanent injury after the two hundred and sixteen rehearsals of
preparation for this superhuman task. And in this connection it
might as well be said that nothing is more absurd than the remark
made by some singers that it does not matter what kind of a voice a
singer has for a Strauss opera. While it is easy to understand the
reluctance of an artist to subject his or her organ to the dangerous
strain involved, the composer's full effect can never be achieved by
a voice without beauty, or with defective intonation. Recall, for
example, the difference between van Rooy's rough singing of Jokaanan
in "Salome" with Dufranne's musical interpretation of the same
r6le. In spite of the tremendous volume of sound of the great orches-
tra anyone with a musical ear could realize the difference between
the effect of Krull's singing, which was quite invariably true, and that
of Frau Chavanne and Frdulein Siems, who were many times noticeably
incorrect in intonation. Indeed Krull's tones-largely through her
art in placing them-dominate even the composer's tremendous or-
chestral ensemble through their carrying quality rather than their size.
    Krull like Ternina, is unique in possessing both voice and dra-
matic genius. The well-worn, if beautiful, role of Elizabeth she fills
with new life, and this part, by the way, furnishes an interesting
contrast to her Elektra. For from the moment that she becomes
aware of Tannhduser's mortal sin she becomes again the woman
possessed by a purpose. As Elektra has the passion to destroy,
Elizabeth has the passion to save. Yet after she has gained the chance
of salvation for her lover and actually sees him leaving her to join the
pilgrims, when she falls back upon her uncle's arm it is as if every-
thing had gone from her. And in the last her final appeal to heaven
seems like a literal going up of the soul in prayer. I know of nothing
so moving in any operatic impersonation, with the exception of
Ternina's last moment in "Die G6tterdiimmerung," as these two
climaxes in Krull's Elizabeth.
    Her Sieglinde is equally her own, subtle in detail,-beautiful and
 touching. As Marta, the unhappy peasant heroine of "Tiefland,"
 she is a primitive peasant to her slightest movement, yet the appeal
 of it goes to the heart. Her singing of her unhappy story to the old
 shepherd is not only moving, but of inexpressible musical beauty.
 If she could have sung the role here no doubt that beautiful opera
 would have had a different fate.
    Not a slender woman from the American standpoint,-yet not a
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