The characters of Greek mythology remain as moving to us today as they were to the first audiences who heard them thousands of years ago. In one sweeping act, composer Richard Strauss has brilliantly transformed the story... more » of the violent revenge of Elektra, mourning the murder of her father by his wife and her lover, into a vivid and emotionally compelling score. This Metropolitan Opera production makes available one of the rare performances on DVD of Brigit Nilsson in one of her signature roles. ".... Miss Nilsson quickly establishes her legendary control.... And by the end...there can be no doubting that her vocal powers are as glorious as ever." "What makes the performance even more impressive is the magnificent support Miss Nilsson receives from the rest of the cast..." This presentation of Elektra is subtitled in English and was taped during the February 16, 1980 at the Metropolitan Opera.« less
Clinton D. Davis | Norman, OK United States | 08/11/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm usually the kinda rare opera person who is actually very annoyed with people who exult in the singers far more than they do the actual music they are singing, but Good GOD! Birgit Nilsson's Elektra is so outstanding that the opening monologue can actually captivate my 22-year-old fraternity brothers into taking a seat when they come over and I'm indulging my decandent musical tastes. Is there any greater praise for an opera recording than that? And yes, it is engineered VERY VERY softly, but if you have a DVD player, you probably have a stereo system to hook it up to, and for this DVD you'll definitely need it. But once its all hooked up, and the volume's up, and the curtain rises, GIT READY...the neighbors will holler, the dogs will howl, and you won't even notice because its all so fabulous. I can't imagine what an amazing night of theatre this was for those who were there live. The only thing that is even mildly distracting is the bad 80's production..I mean come on, those short-shorts on Orestes are NOT necessary. In spite of the soft sound and the fashion faux pas, the singing is magnificent, the acting is compelling, and the conducting from an old yawner like Levine is actually quite wonderful for once (I'm still cursing his name after that barky-bark, triple-chinned PBS Tristan fiasco last year). So get the DVD, indulge and enjoy, and light a candle for Ms. Nilsson so that maybe she'll incarnate again in some Germanic country REAL soon. We love you, Birgit!"
D. J. Edwards | Cheshire, CT United States | 08/18/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This Elektra took on legendary proportions before it was performed! The cast has not been surpassed although a broadcast several years ago with Behrens, Fassbaender and Voigt was also a compellng performance. I was at that perfomrance(also a matinee). I didn't have the good fortune to have been at the Nilsson Elektra. Dunn and Rysanek prove to be Nilsson's equals. What I wouldn't give for the likes of this cast today. The most emotionally draining performance on dvd. The word event is wasted on many mindless performances. This is an EVENT! Met orchestra and Levine perform out of their minds. The only word is superb. This belongs on every shelf in every opera lovers' home. That the audience carried on for over twenty minutes at the curtains fall tells you something. Buy it and don't loan it to anyone........"
Nilsson's dramatic acting makes the best of things
Mr John Haueisen | WORTHINGTON, OHIO United States | 11/24/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is a February 1980 live performance from the Met, with optional English subtitles.
The staging is the rather traditional and appropriate cavelike or dungeon setting. Costumes for Elektra (Birgit Nilsson) and her sister Chrisothemis (Leonie Rysanek) are also bland, which is probably also appropriate for those who have been held prisoner for some years. Klytemnestra, Elektra's mother (Mignon Dunn) wears the very colorful vestiments befitting a self-indulgent queen.
Now comes the hard part: I found Birgit Nilsson's voice to be at times wobbly and sometimes shrieking. It might be a personal preference, as the character Elektra certainly has a lot to shriek about. And yes, it was a live performance, near the end of Nilsson's career, but the DVD notes do proclaim "her vocal powers are as glorious as ever." Personally, I was disappointed in what sounded like inconsistent singing.
On the other hand, her dramatic powers were impressive. Nilsson was totally involved throughout the entire opera, and her gestures and facial reactions to the other characters added tremendously to the overall impact. We should remember that she was a pioneer between the time when opera singers tended to stand stiffly and sing, into today's era where we expect acting and reacting which the camera's eye allows us to see.
This performance features an extremely dramatic finale where Nilsson and Rysanek both collapse and die--it is dramatic and moving, and brings down the house at the Met.
Stunning Document of a Memorable Occasion
Scott Holmes | Wilmette, IL United States | 04/04/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This performance of Elektra at the Metropolitan Opera is a wonderful momento of Birgit Nilsson's final performance in a complete opera at the MET. The matinee performance of February 16, 1980 proves visually what recording afficionados who own Ms. Nilsson's recording of Elektra have known for years: Nilsson is without competition in this role. Granted, this performance is late Nilsson and there are some pitch problems as well as some straightness of tone in alt -- small flaws in an otherwise shattering performance. Leonie Rysanek is said to have had a fever of nearly 102f that day, but as a favor to her esteemed collegue, went on anyway to give an equally committed performance. I cannot recommend this video highly enough. For those of us whose generation knew Birgit Nilsson to BE the greatest Elektra of her time, this DVD must make it's way into every serious opera collector's collection. Mignon Dunn is in fine voice as Klytemnestra and acts the role with great depth of emotion and character without caricature. Add the superb playing of the MET orchestra under James Levine -- and how can you miss. If only Miss Nilsson's Salome and Dyer's Wife in Frau Ohne Schatten had been committed to video as well. Buy it, buy it, buy it!"
Great video...but the PERFORMANCE! ...............WOW!
Richard Calvert | Houston, Texas | 12/28/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a landmark video of historical proportions. The cast is one that comes around rarely in one's lifetime, with some of the finest opera has to offer. Yes, Nilsson and Rysanek are fabulous, but Mignon Dunn takes my breath away. This is a special video for me because I was there in the house...it was Elektrafying! I had always heard about Nilsson's High C's, but her opening lament was like a railroad spike through my chest. This opera is Strauss at his best, and he couldn't have asked for a finer cast!"