Salzburg opens with ‘phenomenal’ Elektra

Salzburg opens with ‘phenomenal’ Elektra


norman lebrecht

August 02, 2020

The Salzburg Festival has opened with Richard Strauss’s Elektra in the well-distanced Felsenreitschule.

The audience roared it to the rafters.

The Lithuanian soprano Ausrine Stundyte in the title role has been called ‘phenomenal’. Franz Welser-Möst conducted.


(c) Salzburg Fetpiele / Bernd Uhlig


  • Bloom says:

    Tanja Ariane Baumgartner s Klytemnestra was quite something. Really great tragedienne.

  • E says:

    The whole thing was fantastic.

  • Beaumont says:

    Provincial production rehashing tired Regie-trends from yesteryear.
    Vocally quite good, as long as you forget Varnay, Borkh, Nilsson, Stemme et al.
    Orchestra excellent.
    One scene would produce outrage in the USA – at the beginning, the ONLY African-American singer in the production looks surprisingly like Mammy in Gone with the Wind.

    • Peter Schönbeck says:

      Why always ONLY the same names?! There have been so many great ELEKTRA in the last 40 years… Some examples: Gwyneth Jones, Janis Martin, Éva Marton, Hildegard Behrens, Deborah Polaski, Alessandra Marc, Elizabeth Connell, Gabriele Schnaut, Luana De Vol, Evelyn Herlitzius, Linda Watson, Nadja Michael, Eva Johansson, Janice Baird, Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet, Iréne Theorin, Ricarda Merbeth, Elena Pankratova, Lise Lindstrom, Catherine Foster, Christine Goerke etc.

      • Mvarc says:

        The only real great Elektra I’d add from your list is Herlitzius and in my top list she would be in an exclusive trio with Nilsson and Varnay. Theorin and Stemme are nearly there, but in my view no one gets close to Nilsson. Your list contain many very FINE Elektras but – Herlitzius apart – no truly great ones.

    • MJA says:

      Beaumont – do get over yourself.

    • IP says:

      I have met Varnay and Borkh but they were far too aged to sing as of then, and the last decently sung Elektra, for a long time, must have been about the time I was born. One had to endure the likes of Schnaut in a stylized production by Wernicke that was there to both stun and educate us all — the nutcase has wrapped Klyt in a cloak that was an exact replica of the curtain of the Munich State Opera.
      Then, out of the blue, there comes this Lithuanian girl, and propels Tebaldi and Rysanek into the times where acting in opera is expected to happen at cinema level. Good-looking, perfectly compatible with today’s directors (I hope they don’t abuse of her), will sing opera of any style and period in any language. . . a dream come true. The staging was stylish and sensitive, no caricatures, and the whole cast was excellent.

    • PFmus says:

      Awful familiar writing and type of complaint – one can imagine who has this sock-puppet account…

  • Carl says:

    Hopefully that roaring audience was roaring through their face masks.

  • Sixtus says:

    Those interested in hearing such a spectacularly sung and characterized performance for themselves can stream a replay (until next Saturday) over Austrian radio OE1 at an acceptably high bit rate (I actually prefer the radio sound to the live video sound).

    The audio was also carried over the classical stations of the German ARD system and may also be available through one of them.

    Links on various ARD stations for the video all seem to point to the feed, which is not available outside France and Germany (unless you use a VPN).

    Note: The production starts with insect noises (foreshadowing some scenic effects involving the murders) followed by an nearly too-harrowing speech by Klytemnestra adapted from the Agamemnon of Aeschylus. I have always felt that the Aeschylus was at least as big an influence on Hofmannsthal’s libretto than his reputed source (the Sophocles Elektra).

    • James says:

      I watched it in England…no VPN

    • “The production starts with insect noises … “

      Ah, yes, and the same director’s recent Salome in Munich starts with Mahler noises. These régisseurs now want leave their imprint in sound as well as pictures, and comfortable brokers like Kirill Petrenko and Franz Welser-Möst allow it, astonishingly.

  • Peter Schönbeck says:

    The Elektra Première in Salzburg was great. The cast wonderful. Maestro Franz Welser-Möst and the Wiener Philharmoniker were brilliant. Welser-Möst is a phenomenal Strauss conductor – today one of the best for this repertoire…

  • Keith says:

    You can watch this free on ARTE until next weekend. I watched it on the ARTE app on Apple TV and listened on headphones through my music system. I presume it’s also on their website too, Also Saltzburg concerts with Igor Levit, Ivor Bolton, Andris Nelsons coming up this week too.

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    Any decent performance of this opera draws rapturous response from audiences. Probably the most intense opera in the repertoire.

  • Alan H Burstin says:

    It is so incredibly frustrating for us Americans who so badly want to be able to be able to travel to Europe again to attend live opera performances there. We will soon hopefully have a new President who will coordinate an effective national response to the Coronavirus in the USA so the EU will allow us to return as tourists. We dream of live opera returning to our opera houses in the USA as well as very soon as possible.