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Malcolm Arnold

Publisher: Novello & Co

Electra (1963)
Work Notes
Concert version
Publisher
Novello & Co Ltd
Category
Orchestra
Sub Category
Large Orchestra
Year Composed
1963
Duration
15 Minutes
Programme Note
Malcolm Arnold Electra (1963)
Malcolm Arnold’s one-act ballet score Electra, op. 79, to a scenario based on a much-compressed version of Sophocles’ play, was commissioned by the Royal Ballet and first performed at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, on 26 March 1963. The choreographer was Robert Helpmann whose association with the Vic-Wells/Royal Ballet went back to 1933. The Australian artist Arthur Boyd was responsible for the striking sets and costumes, and John Lanchbery conducted.

The cast consisted of Nadia Nerina as Electra, David Blair as Orestes, Monica Mason as Clytemnestra and Derek Rencher as Aegisthus, and there were eight male Furies.

In his full score and reduction for two pianos, Arnold adopted the normal anglicised spelling of the name of his heroine: Electra. But Helpmann’s ballet was billed and performed at the Royal Opera House with the ‘c’ replaced by a teutonic ‘k’, as in the more familiar opera of Richard Strauss.

The first concert performance was given by the BBC Concert Orchestra, conducted by Barry Wordsworth, on 5 November 2004, at the Royal Festival Hall, London.


  • Ensemble
    BBC Philharmonic
    Conductor
    Rumon Gamba
    Chandos:
Performances
Date
Title
Reviews
Barry Wordsworth and the BBC Concert Orchestra unleashed in Malcolm Arnold's Electra a concentrated, powerful and sometimes stark ballet score...this was a performance of terrific panache.
Colin Anderson, classicalsource.com,11/5/2004
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