[Met Performance] CID:243500
Elektra {46} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/1/1975.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 1, 1975


ELEKTRA {46}

Elektra.................Klara Barlow
Chrysothemis............Leonie Rysanek
Klytämnestra............Astrid Varnay
Orest...................William Dooley
Aegisth.................Robert Nagy
Overseer................Carlotta Ordassy
Serving Woman...........Loretta Di Franco
Serving Woman...........Jean Kraft
Serving Woman...........Shirley Love
Serving Woman...........Cynthia Munzer
Serving Woman...........Christine Weidinger
Confidant...............Elinor Harper
Trainbearer.............Maureen Smith
Young Servant...........Charles Anthony
Old Servant.............Edward Ghazal
Guardian................Edmond Karlsrud

Conductor...............Heinrich Hollreiser

Review of Speight Jenkins in the Post

KLARA BARLOW SAVES 'ELEKTRA'

Klara Barlow has had quite an amazing career at the Met. She was the soprano, as all opera buffs will recall, who stepped in as Isolde after the famous "Tristan" affair of 1973-74. And just this last Saturday afternoon the American soprano performed another feat.

Martina Arroyo, who was supposed to sing Amelia in "Un Ballo in Maschera" fell ill; her cover, Elinor Ross, had been released to go to Washington to sing Tosca, and with no rehearsal Miss Barlow walked into the Verdi opera, saving the show.

Last night, in place of an ill Danica Mastilovic, she portrayed Elektra. The character is onstage virtually all of the 105 minutes of the one-act shocker, and she is singing for much of the time in full Wagnerian voice. To make Strauss' heroine live, a singer needs a solid low register, gleaming high C's and the capacity for a lyrical Recognition Scene.

Few sopranos have ever succeeded in all of these requirements, but even fewer would be willing to perform the role at the Metropolitan Opera without a lot of experience. One can say about Miss Barlow that she got through the role and sang most of the notes.

Her concept of Elektra as a rather petulant teenager might work psychologically, but it is impossible given Hofmannstahl's libretto and Strauss' music. Not for one instant did the possessed, maniacal, grandiose side of Elektra come to the fore. This Elektra never scared you; she never seemed a demon; and she was not a woman who could have vengefully preserved the axe that murdered her father.

She began the Monologue with a throaty sound and some intonation problems; as
the evening progressed, her voice cleared, but except in the very lyric portions of the Recognition Scene, she never had the volume, power or sound for the heroine.

After over two seasons absence, the Austrian soprano Leonie Rysanek returned to the Metropolitan as Chrysothemis, a role she first sang here with Inge Borkh, in 1961, and has repeated countless times the world over. She received the lion's share of the audience's cheers, as well she should have. She alone had the sound that one associates with a Metropolitan Opera "Elektra."

Miss, Rysanek has tempered her interpretation: her Chrysothemis was much quieter and less hysterical. But the soprano was hampered by having no one of her dynamic power to play against; the opera was fatally overbalanced toward the "weak" sister.
Vocally, she had a good night. The high voice had that highly personal effulgence; her voice was steady; and the pitch was quite sure enough. A feeling for Miss Rysanek's art is highly personal; this was an evening in which the best qualities of her voice overcame everything.



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