In celebration of Richard Strauss' 150th birthday, Christian Thielemann and the Staatskapelle Dresden recorded this thrilling performance of Elektra, the composer's most psychologically harrowing and violently expressionist work. With Evelyn Herlitzius in the title role, Waltraud Meier as Klytämnestra, Anne Schwanewilms as Chrysothemis, Frank von Aken as Aegisth, and René Pape as Orest, this is a powerful cast that performs with unrelenting intensity and nervous energy. However, the part of Elektra is central throughout and well-matched to the indefatigable Herlitzius, who has won critical praise for her spellbinding performance. Dresden has been closely associated with Strauss' operas since it received premieres at the Semper Opera, and this production of Elektra is part of that honored tradition, which has been sustained for more than a century. Yet the energy and vividness of this performance show that Elektra isn't a museum piece, but a vital opera that can hold its own with any contemporary work of equivalent ferocity. Thielemann and the orchestra give the singers strong support, and the textures and tone colors they produce add expressive depth and tension to the drama. Deutsche Grammophon's recording has vibrant sonorities and terrific orchestral depth, though the voices are always well-placed and fully audible, so this is in many ways a superb tribute to Strauss, as well as being one of the finest recordings of Elektra available.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2