Strauss: Elektra (extended excerpts) - Shuard, Collier, Mödl, Shaw, Lanigan; Downes. London, 1966


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I felt the need to call this recording of Elektra "Extended excerpts" due to the fact that the "Maids Scene" is missing and there are a few drop-outs.  In addition there is a hiss in the sound and the micing is slightly distant.  Bad news out of the way, lovers of this opera will appreciate this recording because of the outstanding cast.  Amy Shuard brings beauty of tone that is rarely heard in the daunting title role.  Vocal beauty is a welcome novelty, but Elektra is about power and in that department she does not hold back, the occasional wayward high C notwithstanding.  The opera world is already well acquainted with the Chrystothemis of Marie Collier thanks to the Solti recording with Nilsson and Resnik (fun fact: she was a last minute replacement for Gwyneth Jones.)  In this live recording one can appreciate the size and cut of her voice in a way that you can't from a studio recording and at times she even seems to overwhelm Shuard volume-wise.  In addition she brings even greater energy to this performance no doubt due to the fact that it is a live performance (and also possibly due to Solti's reputation of insisting on many takes during recording sessions thereby diluting any freshness a singer might otherwise bring.)  Last but not least is the Klytämnestra of Martha Mödl.  In 1966 her glory days were well in the distant past, however she does not let the damaged state of her voice prevent her from giving a chilling performance.  In fact her vocal shortcomings almost give Klytämnestra a sympathetic quality.  Edward Downes gives an excellent performance although occasionally favoring slower tempi.  I have included excerpts featuring Shuard, Collier, and Mödl, respectively, to fill out the second CD.

Amy Shuard, Marie Collier and Martha Mödl sing arias and scenes

OD 10643-2

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