Sunday, August 31, 2014

Christine Goerke's Elektra from London: The "WOW!" Factor

I just finished listening to the live broadcast from London's Royal Albert Hall of Strauss' Elektra (my second favorite opera . . . ever) and certainly hope others got to experience this performance. It may be the single most amazing Elektra I've experienced outside of the concert hall or opera house. I didn't think she could have been better in the role than her Chicago opening night last season or her Covent Garden performances, but with more experience in the role, La Goerke really, truly sank her teeth into the meat - and the heart of Elektra.

The audience went (pardon the term) Bat-Shit-Crazy right after the final note and when the soprano came out things got even crazier. A similar roar went up for Dame Felicity Palmer. Then, when Goerke came back out the electricity went up even a notch or two higher . . . one might call it frenzied or fevered.

It's rare when your Elektra has better, lighter, yet solid high notes than her baby sister, and, as good as Gun-Brit Barkmin was as Chrysothemis, when the gals were doing their sister act, it was difficult not to notice who was more secure up there.

Johan Reuter was mighty good as Orest, and the interaction between he and Ms. Goerke led up to a Recognition Scene that was as sumptuous and gorgeous as one is likely to hear.

Maestro Bychkov shaped the score in perhaps one of the most exciting readings I've ever heard of it. The quieter moments have never sounded as intimate as he made them here. He mentioned in an earlier interview that Royal Albert Hall's acoustics - for as vast a space as it is - allows one to do things with a score one might not chance in other houses, something like "everything is possible here." He was right.

Additionally the way he handled the music following the murders was nothing short of breathtaking, the waltz beginning slow and deliberate, not the hurried madness we usually get (and love), then building and building to a positively dizzying effect that threw one (or at least me) completely off balance. It was tremendous and as overwhelming a performance overall that I have experienced of this my second favorite opera.

I think the announcer just said the broadcast will be available for 23 more days. This is happy news, indeed and one would be mad not to seize the opportunity to take advantage of this most generous gift.


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