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Strauss: Elektra (Vienna State Opera/Bohm, 1965) Live recording

4.4 out of 5 stars 21 ratings

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Product Description

Following the scandalous 'Salome', it was with the radical, expressive violence of 'Elektra' in 1909 that Richard Strauss finally cemented his position as the leading German opera composer of his generation. The immense vocal and orchestral demands it makes remain undiminished and few singers have really been able to meet the murderous challenge of singing the title role. In the 1960s and 70s, however, Birgit Nilsson was one, possessing as she did a powerful voice also capable of much subtlety. This live recording from the Vienna State Opera in 1965, in a production by Wieland Wagner, was conducted by the great Karl Böhm, and was a musical triumph. Not only did Böhm and Nilsson give full rein to the eruptive violence of Strauss s setting but they also attended to the psychological details that the composer teased out of Hoffmansthal's text. They were aided in this by the orchestra of the Vienna State Opera and a cast that was homogeneous right down to the smallest roles. Leonie Rysanek sang the wistful Chrysothemis, in a role she made her own, and with her luminous soprano she was an ideal counterpart to Nilsson s tortured heroine. As their adversary, their inscrutable mother Klytämnestra, the dusky-timbred Regina Resnik gave a superb performance. For the adulterous lover Aegisth, the State Opera engaged the legendary heldentenor Wolfgang Windgassen. Eberhard Waechter sang the part of Orest, and with his unmistakeable baritone he offered every possible nuance of this important character, driven by fate.


Conducted by Karl Böhm, this derives from a radio broadcast from the Vienna State Opera in 1965. It features one of the most striking casts ever assembled for the work, though some of the individual singers can be heard to better advantage elsewhere. Leonie Rysanek's sensual Chrysothemis is even more ecstatic on her 1955 recording on Walhall, also with Böhm.Birgit Nilsson, meanwhile, had only recently taken the title role into her repertoire, and her interpretation hadn't acquired the subtlety she was to bring to it three years later when she recorded the role with Georg Solti. Böhm's Klytemnestra, like Solti's, is the great Regina Resnik, whose haunting performance here is the more engrossing of the two. Böhm himself is at his absolute best, attaining almost unbearable levels of frenzy in places, yet also wonderfully detailed, even with the restricted, mono sound. --The Guardian

'Karl Böhm was always at his best in live Strauss and this is no exception. Nilsson simply has no equal in the role … the sound is clear enough for us to hear instrumentalists turning the pages of the score.' --Ralph Moore, Music Web International, August 14th 2014

' ... the performance captured here has a genuine claim to be historic because it captures what was, in effect, Birgit Nilsson s first foray into the role of Elektra ... Nilsson s assumption of the title role is a thing of wonder. There is extraordinary freshness to both her singing and her articulation of the words ... Throughout, she rides the tidal wave of the orchestra as though she were drawing inspiration from it rather than being intimidated by it. The clarity of her tone is sensational, never showing the slightest sign of tiring ... The supporting cast is every bit as exciting ... The Vienna orchestra play for him [Bohm] like men possessed, fully buying into Böhm s vision ... a class act ... This is a great release for the Strauss centenary, and one to be enjoyed as an essential adjunct to the other Elektras from Böhm and Nilsson.' --Simon Thompson Music Web International, 23rd September 2014

'immensely exciting and deeply moving ... Birgit Nilsson...sounds completely at home in the part ... Absolutely magnificent ... don t miss this stupendous performance.' --Richard Lawrence Gramophone, October 2014

IRR OUTSTANDING DISC 'the performance proceeds with a coherence and a unity of purpose that bespeak a true ensemble ... this Elektra achieves its impact through the completeness of its musicality and technical mastery ... With Varnay we get exceptional warmth and womanliness of tone, with Borkh overwhelming fierceness combined with painful vulnerability and a thrilling flame in the voice. Both give full value textually, as does Nilsson ... Highly recommended.' --Roger Pines - International Record Review, December 2014

Product details

  • Product Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 14.1 x 12.7 x 2.29 cm; 181.44 Grams
  • Manufacturer ‏ : ‎ Orfeo
  • Original Release Date ‏ : ‎ 2014
  • Studio ‏ : ‎ Orfeo
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B00KFU099C
  • Number of discs ‏ : ‎ 2
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 181 g
  • Item Dimensions LxWxH ‏ : ‎ 14.1 x 12.7 x 2.3 Centimeters
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.4 out of 5 stars 21 ratings

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Jim Brooks
5.0 out of 5 stars A Legendary Elektra
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 7 July 2014
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not so impressive
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 29 August 2014
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GJ Veenbrink
5.0 out of 5 stars almost better then her Solti recording
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 1 February 2015
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Eclectic Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Amazing Performance!
Reviewed in Canada on 7 September 2019
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DUPIN Claude
4.0 out of 5 stars Böhm = Strauss
Reviewed in France on 29 September 2014
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