Elektra at the Philadelphia Orchestra

I just came from the Kimmel Center – good lord, to hear this orchestra play that piece, a piece that remains flabbergasting over a century after the premiere – there’s one more performance, this Saturday – you should go. Yes, the surtitles were a mess, and yes, one of the singers went sharp every time she crescendoed – but there were some jaw-dropping performances as well – don’t miss it.

When the curtain fell after two hours of demonic intensity the audience sat for some seconds in stupefied silence until the “Straussianer” recovered and began to applaud…

– Barbara Tuchman describing the Elektra premiere in her book The Proud Tower.

 

New use for Strauss

“‘I remember her writing those essays through the night, and listening to Elektra, very loud, with those women screaming. When she was completely wrung out, she’d take a nap on the floor by the typewriter. Two hours – then she was up and at it again.'”

-Richard Howard, on Susan Sontag, quoted by Joan Acocella in The Hunger Artist from the essay collection Twenty-Eight Artists and Two Saints