Strauss’ Elektra. Voices: Iréne Theorin, Sara Jakubiak, Doris Soffel, Derek Welton, Stefan Margita, etc. Choir of the Valencian Generalitat and Orchestra of the Valencian Community. Scene Director: Robert Carsen. Musical director: Marc Albrecht. Palau de les Arts. Valencia, 18-I-2020.
Since the Palau de les Arts did not dedicate “Nabucco” to Helga Schmidt, I did it now inside myself initially thinking that she might have liked the title and I think the final result proved me right. This “Elektra” is worthy of any top-notch theater in the world.
It is curious that Strauss’s next opera was “The Knight of the Rose”, in such a different language, and that until the end of his life he took refuge in classicism except for a couple of few exceptions, to end with the totally different « Last four lieder ». Possibly, after “Elektra” he saw a wall that he felt unable to penetrate and that would have led him to the atonality and the second School of Vienna.
But let’s start with the staging, coming from the Paris Opera, based on an original co-production of the Florentino Musical Mayo and the Tokyo Opera Nomori, with Robert Carsen as the person in charge. Carsen is undoubtedly one of the great registers of the present, but sometimes it fails and his “Tosca” is a clear example. This time the success is total, following the guidelines of his admirable “Dialogue of Carmelites” that could be seen in Madrid. It is enough a black cyclorama, a floor simulating earth and singers and figurants with only a rectangular pit of twelve square meters on the floor in the middle of the stage to simulate the entrance to the palace, going down and not going up to it. The palace is invisible as such. With such an empty stage you have to move the stage staff very well and Carsen does it with great wisdom. Twenty female figures accompany Elektra almost permanently with movements that sometimes complete the action and other times their feelings. Create scenes of formidable impact, such as Orestes’s confession to Elektra of her true personality when she says: “Do the dogs in the yard recognize me and my sister is not capable?” Overwhelming Only the crazy dance of Elektra is missed at the end.
Marc Albrecht directs with power, perhaps more than desirable with a very open pit and an acoustics that projects the orchestra more than the account and with some voice of flow at a lower level, but it is a pleasure to listen to an orchestra of only 53 teachers in payroll with supplements to reach almost twice the lecterns and that sounds like the best in any pit of the great world theaters. A true miracle.
Of the three female protagonists stands out the Chrysothemis of Sara Jakubiak, with the right voice and intention. Irene Theorin wasn’t possibly at tonight on her best night. Undoubtedly good level but short of volume in some moments. The two voices lack differentiation and Jakubiak imposes his own. Little interest is the Klitämnestra by Doris Soffel. We still remember in this role Rysanek in 1995 at the Palau de la Música, today with some renovation works that will last longer than its construction. Excellent Orestes by Derek Welton, especially in its initial monologue and impeccable tablets.
Endless ovations of the public as it was logical, especially when the show began at seven and ended at nine, not in a hurry to return home. Just as I started: Helga Schmidt would have felt very proud of this representation in the theater she created and whose level is still maintained, especially in choir and orchestra.