CHRONICLE - At the head of the Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra, Mikko Franck has given Strauss' opera an anthology dimension. Nina Stemme has lived in the title role, surrounded by Matthias Goerne, Waltraud Meier and Gun-Brit Barkmin.
Almost three years after the opening of the Philharmonie of Paris, where the public is already stingy with enthusiasm, we do not remember a more spectacular ovation. As soon as the final agreement ElektraAs it sounded last Friday, 2400 people suddenly stood up as if it were obvious, shouting their enthusiasm as if to free themselves from a tension too long contained. It is true that the one-act opera created in 1909 is an electroshock that would leave K.-O. the most resistant listener. Richard Strauss and his librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal realized a concentration of ecstatic tension, ruthless, whose tragic fury reaches the trance.
One could fear the absence of staging, especially with in memory the masterpiece made in Aix-en-Provence by Patrice Chéreau, whose leadership of actors so just suddenly made these mythological figures of human beings.
Certainly, the concert version has its drawbacks: seeing the singers come and go in tuxedos and evening gowns, to sit at their desks and drink from the bottlenecks of their plastic water bottles, does not really help to identify themselves. to the characters. But if it is not applicable to all works, the formula has a huge advantage when it comes to Elektra: in this dramaturgy where the orchestra is a full-fledged character, tied with the voices, placing the musicians on the platform and not in the pit allows to concentrate 100% on the music and to highlight as ever the Straussian art of instrumentation.
That's all the merit of Mikko Franck to have taken advantage of this configuration to chisel the orchestration with sovereign control. His great merit: do not succumb to the temptation of indiscriminate decibel release, yet quickly arrived with this staff of 104 musicians. We can imagine a wilder direction, more visceral, but not more balanced. Thanks to his always lucid baton, the Philharmonic Orchestra of Radio France remains transparent even in the blast, and the brilliant winds never crush strings that do not forget to sing. No doubt a contribution of their first violin one evening, Volkhard Steude, Konzertmeister of the Vienna Philharmonic called as guest.
Insider benefit: Voices are rarely covered by the orchestra. And it was the least, with such voices! That of Matthias Goerne (Oreste) aims to be more rounded and deep. That of Waltraud Meier no longer has the power of yesteryear, but this subtlety of the word, this feminine class, this anguish of Clytemnestra, are forever historical. That of Gun-Brit Barkmin is not the most seductive, but its clarity, its laser projection rid Chrysothemis of all silliness: a future Elektra? Meanwhile, it is Nina Stemme who faces the overwhelming title role with much more than endurance, a proud dignity, a compact power, a supreme control that finally turn this evening into a memorable one.
- My night at the Philharmonie
- The Vienna Philharmonic, a true star of Salzburg
- Conducting: women's place!
- Sound entry for Mikko Franck's "Philhar"