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Charles Edwards’ Elektra: ‘five stars are too few’

The revival of Charles Edwards’ production of Elektra by Richard Strauss at the Royal Opera House has opened to rapturous reviews.

The Metro described it as ‘a superb production from Charles Edwards that places the action in a world of decaying Art Nouveau decadence…five stars are too few.’

‘There will certainly be room for any revival of Elektra as gripping as this. …an exciting revival, well worth catching’ wrote Richard Fairman in the Financial Times, referring to plans for the 150th anniversary of Strauss’s birth next year.

Describing it as a performance of  ‘unstinting power, intensity and raw emotion’ What’s On Stage  said that ‘the first night of this revival of Charles Edwards’ 2003 staging was not only one of the finest performances of Elektra for a generation, but one of the Royal Opera’s greatest evenings as well.’

The Evening Standard praised Edwards’ production as ‘Faithful to the work’s Freudian overtones, superbly sung and conducted, this revival is gripping — and at its climax shattering.’

‘At last, this intelligent production gets the superlative performances it deserves’ was the verdict of blogger  Classical Iconoclast. Talking about the personification of Elektra –  an ‘astonishingly good’ performance by Christine Goerke – the review says: ‘Edward’s Personenregie is exceptional. Every gesture, every modulation works expressively.’ It also quotes Charles Edwards about the importance of identifying with Elektra as a human being:

‘Charles Edwards, the director, wanted to avoid the caricature of Elektra as a mad harpie. “A lot of her music is soft, amazingly tender…… Elektra, for all her righteousness, is deeply damaged: everything that’s weiblich, human and fertile about her, she’s had to repress, yet she doesn’t hold it against her sister who stands for all she can never have.”’

The Arts Desk concluded: ‘Here music-drama’s unique capacity to attract and repel, exhilarate and depress simultaneously is dazzlingly well served by the conductor and singers of a Royal Opera revival which really kicks you in the guts.’

Finally, according to Classical Source: ‘Edwards’s self-designed production, now ten years old, represents Strauss and Hofmannsthal exceptionally well. The lighting, also his own work, keeps a relentless white beam on Elektra to show there is no escape for her … a majestic production that is as taut and terror-infused as the score it serves.’

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