A Brilliant Evelyn Herlitzius Leads an Outstanding Cast in Elektra on the Liceu Stage

18/12/2016

Strauss, Elektra: Orchestra of the Gran Teatre del Liceu / Josep Pons (conductor), Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona, 15.12.2016. (JMI)

e

Evelyn Herlitzius (Elektra) © A. Bofill

Cast:
Elektra – Evelyn Herlitzius
Chrysothemis – Adrianne Pieczonka
Klytämnestra – Waltraud Meier
Orest – Alan Held
Aegisth – Thomas Randle
Orest Preceptor – Franz Mazura
Young Servant – Florian Hoffmann
Old Servant – Mariano Viñuales
Vertraute/Aufseherin – Renate Behle
First Maid – Bonita Hyman
Second Maid/Schleppträgerin – Andrea Hill
Third Maid – Silvia Hablowetz
Fourth Maid – Marie-Eve Munger
Fifth Maid – Roberta Alexander

Production:
Director – Patrice Chéreau (original), Vincent Huguet (revival)
Sets – Richard Peduzzi
Costumes – Caroline de Vivaise
Lighting – Dominique Bruguière

The Liceu season continues with this superb Elektra, which is notable for its strong musical performance and excellent cast, particularly the protagonist.

Patrice Chéreau’s well-known production premiered in Aix-en-Provence in July 2013. The sets are quite traditional and similar to those in other stagings: a courtyard at the front where the action takes place, and a building in the background that represents the palace. Judging from the costumes, the action has been brought up to modern times. While the production is neither elaborate nor especially original, it does serve the plot very nicely.

The characters are modern and well defined. Elektra does not die of joy at the end of the opera, but she seems to accept the advice of Chrysothemis to follow her to a new life. The same thing is true of Orestes. Klytämnestra is younger than what we are accustomed to seeing in this opera, and she is particularly credible. Chéreau’s original staging (here revived by Vincent Huguet) is solid and the direction is too, in particular with regard to the group of maids.

I had some reservations about the musical aspect beforehand since neither the conductor nor the orchestra seemed to be a sufficient guarantee for an opera like Elektra. But the result, if not spectacular, was so much stronger than I expected. The conducting by Josep Pons may not equal that of Esa-Pekka Salonen in the same production, but Pons’s reading was one of the most convincing I can remember from him. He also drew a commendable performance from the Liceu Orchestra, much above its general level in recent years.

Elektra was played by Evelyn Herlitzius who triumphed in the part, as she has done on many other occasions. Vocally, she does not have the opulence of someone like Nina Stemme or various past performers, but it is almost impossible to think of an Elektra as intense as hers. She had the greatest triumph of the night. It is the fifth time I’ve heard her sing the part of Elektra, and she continues to be an exceptional interpreter. One forgets other vocal aspects and ends up surrendering to the emotion that this singer is able to transmit. After all, if opera is not emotion through singing, what is it?

Adrianne Pieczonka has become the Chrysothemis of reference since her participation in the Aix-en-Provence premiere. It is difficult to think of anyone who is better in this role. Since the last time I heard her in the part she has become tighter at the top of the range, but she is still a terrific Chrysothemis.

Waltraud Meier does not have the voice that Klytämnestra requires, but she is an artist who ends up convincing us in everything she does. She was, however, not at her best here: her voice is now weaker in the lower notes and somewhat short on volume.

Bass-baritone Alan Held as Orest left a great impression: sonorous, moving and convincing. The cast of principal characters was completed by tenor Thomas Randle as Aegisth, and he handled the role very well.

In the secondary characters the presence of veteran Franz Mazura as Preceptor of Orestes must be noted. At 92 he offers both physical agility and a resonant voice.

José M. Irurzun

Print Friendly

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

MW

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
 in 2018/2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Edinburgh Sunday International Concerts Series in 2018/19 __________________________________
  • NEW! Salzburg Whitsun Festival 7 – 10 June 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Bolshoi Ballet 2018/19 UK Cinema Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera Holland Park’s 2018 Season Begins Soon __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018-2019 Geneva Grand Theâtre Season __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 Hallé Season in Manchester __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 Tonhalle Orchestra Zürich __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 CBSO at Symphony Hall, Birmingham __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 BBC NOW in Cardiff and Swansea __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Opera in 2018/19 __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2018/19 Birmingham Classical Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Kelli O’Hara and Ken Watanabe Star in The King and I at the London Palladium __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2018 BBC Proms __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera Celebrates its 25th Anniversary with Nicolò Isouard’s Cinderella __________________________________
  • NEW! Pop-Up Opera’s 2018 Mozart Double Bill __________________________________
  • NEW! Zurich Opera in 2018/2019 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! How Our Grandparents Decided How We Should Listen to Music __________________________________
  • NEW! Abandoned Liszt Opera Sardanapalo Premieres in Weimar in August __________________________________
  • NEW! THE TENOR RUSSELL THOMAS IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARIDA MOTA-BULL __________________________________
  • NEW! RAFAL BLECHACZ IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • NEW! MARKUS POSCHNER IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Chelsea Opera Group Perform Massenet’s Thaïs at the Cadogan Hall on 23 June __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Carly Paoli Sings for Chelsea Pensioners, at Cadogan Hall, and Signs for Sony/ATV __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH ITALIAN BARITONE FRANCO VASSALLO __________________________________
  • NEW! MICHAEL SANDERLING IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • NEW! Trinity Laban Moves to Abolish All-Male Composer Concerts __________________________________
  • NEW! ARABELLA STEINBACHER IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! THE CONDUCTOR LAURENCE EQUILBEY IN CONVERSATION WITH COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH LISETTE OROPESA AS SHE RETURNS TO LA OPERA FOR ORFEO ED EURIDICE __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month