Shaking up, stopping the breath, such was the premiere of the opera “Elektra” by Richard Strauss on the stage of the Sofia Opera and Ballet on 26 November 2020.
This exceptional opus of expressionism turns upside down the ideas about the real, it immerses us into the depths of human nature, such as it comes from the remote past, but with references to the humankind of our technological time.
The creative insights of the stage director and the Director Acad. Plamen Kartaloff for the next time in succession activated the potential of the whole ensemble, which, together with the guest-conductor Evan-Alexis Christ and the remarkable team – the set designer Sven Jonke, Leo Kulash – costumes, Fredy Franzutti – choreographer, lighting Andrey Hajinyak, technical services created this thriller.
I would say that this is a thriller from the class of Hitchcock. In contrast to the films, here, at the opera theatre, the energy from the stage and the orchestra are conquering directly the senses, from close with the breath of the happening. And this whole wonder happens with two casts of the Sofia Opera, with Bulgarian artists, with Bulgarian orchestra.
Inspired by the idea about the unfinished arch of Mycenae, Sven Jonke created the image of the Crystal palace of Mycenae, which for him is a peculiar reflection of Klytaemnestra’s soul. At the end it collapses.
The rotating stage, with transparent inclined walls, through which are to be seen reflections of figures, actions and ballet episodes activate the idea of the ancient theatre. The feeling of unity of time, action and place is elaborated in detail like a film. Interesting was the interweaving of the ballet scenes into the plot as organic part of the action, reminding us the role of the commentators from the ancient drama.
The orchestra in this case, because of the epidemic situation, installed in the hall, is visible. Something which gives a new flavour to the experience. This is a real theatre of the instruments, a play of the different groups, which takes place before the spectator. A theatre, woven from the rich metrorhythmical pulsation in Richard Strauss’ score, something, which happens before the spectator.
The Elektra of Lilia Kehayova vocally and as acting suggested Elektra’s internally destructive drama with great intensity. She developed the character plastically in its different states till the final danse, the state of catharsis of the personage.
Gergana Rusekova’s Klytaemnestra was exceptional. She developed a memorable expressive character, in which are raging fears and guilty conscience. Her rich voice, as well the acting suggestion are conquering.
Chrysothemis, the only bright character, who doesn’t accept the revenge as the only way, Tsvetana Badalovska created with a lot of nuances and vocal beauty. Atanas Mladenov in the role of Orest was also an excellent choice in this whole sinister drama, the catharsis of whom at the end culminates with the assassination of Aegisth and Klytaemnestra.
Elektra’s final joyful danse and the collapse of the palace with the incredibly beautiful music in the orchestra calmed down the accumulated energies in this one hour and 45 minutes.
The wild applauses didn’t fade away for a long time. The audience on its feet as if didn’t want to go out from the magic, from the experience of the unique spectacle of “Elektra”.
This event, born during the pandemic, proved that the spirit is always triumphing over fear.
Dr. Magdalena Manolova