CULTURE

Nikos Michalakis conducts ‘Electra’ before a full house at Berlin Philharmonic Hall

It was always his dream to conduct a major orchestra in a concert performance of Richard Strauss’s «Electra.» The youthful but distinguished conductor Nikos Michalakis had expressed this desire to Kitty Kyriakopoulou, who undertook to see that his dream came true by sponsoring a concert that was eventually held on September 22 in Berlin. Michalakis conducted the performance, without a score, in the Berlin Philharmonic Hall. Strauss’s music was played by the Robert Schumann Philharmonie Chemnitz, and sung by the Chemnitz Opera Choir with soprano Eva Johansson as soloist in the leading role, mezzo soprano Hanna Schwarz as Clytemnestra, soprano Nancy Gustafson as Chrysothemis and baritone Wolfgang Schoene as Orestes. For 44-year-old Michalakis – a graduate of Athens College and the Hellenic Conservatory, a prize-winning student of the Royal Academy of Music, and an Onassis Foundation scholarship recipient – it was another feather in his cap. Michalakis has worked with the London Philarmonia and conducted two concerts of Richard Strauss’s difficult music for «Electra,» from Sophocles’ tragedy of the same name on a libretto by the poet Hugo von Hofmannstal. The applause was enthusiastic and lengthy for this latest performance by the Greek conductor, as it had been in 1957 for Dimitris Mitropoulos when he conducted the same opera at the Salzburg Festival.