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Work of the Week – Richard Strauss: Elektra

On 19 January 2019, a new critical edition of Strauss’ one-act opera Elektra will be premiered at the Landestheater Linz, led by their chief conductor Markus Poschner and directed by Michael Schulz.

A preliminary new performance material for Elektra has been prepared as part of the Richard Strauss Works – Critical Edition, which is the first scholarly critical edition of Richard Strauss’ complete musical oeuvre. Rather than being created purely for musicological scholarship, the edition strives to also serve performing artists and has been developed as an extraordinary symbiosis of musicology and artistic practice. Drawing on the insights of extensive research by the Richard Strauss Institute, the edition consolidates such source materials as autograph scores, alternative versions, and Strauss’ own correspondence. Salome will be the first stage work to be published in April 2019, to be followed by Elektra.

Performance materials based on the edition are also being created. Landestheater Linz is now putting the score and orchestral material of the Elektra edition to the test in close cooperation with the editors of the research institute at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, before the volume is concluded and published.

Elektra: new performance material for a well-known opera

The opera is based on Sophocles’ play of the same name and adaptation of the Greek myth, with a libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Employing the most extreme musical tools at his disposal, Strauss transforms the story of Elektra into a deeply emotional, intense and violent soundscape, as the vengeful Elektra is consumed by her desire to avenge her father’s death.

Strauss has described his motivation in writing Elektra:

“My desire to confront Winckelmann’s Roman copies and Goethe’s humanism with a possessed, exalted Greece of the sixth century won over a myriad of misgivings, and so Elektra (in contrast to Salome) employs an even greater unity of structure, and with it, greater violence.”

Following the premiere, Landestheater Linz will stage eleven further performances of Elektra concluding 26 April 2019.

Photo: Staatstheater Nürnberg / Ludwig Olah