Elektra, An Opera In One Act

by Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal
at Metropolitan Opera, New York City
Reviewed by Donald Lindeman

Pity the legendary royal families of ancient Greece, their stories are so incredibly complicated, and, have especially unhappy endings. Blood feuds abound, and seldom are they fully resolved. Richard Strauss’ and Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s opera Elektra debuted in Dresden in 1909, bringing Sophocles’ account of the Argive house of Agamemnon to a modern iteration. In ancient Athens, everyone would have known the story of Electra before they’d even seen Sophocles’ telling of it.

The story of how Clytemnestra conspired with her lover Aegisthus to murder her husband Agamemnon upon his return from Troy, and the woe that befalls Electra as result. Electra has become an outcast in her own royal house; she’s treated as though a slave, hardly better than the dogs. She has no chance of marriage, and her sole cause is the vengeance of her father’s death. She doesn’t bother to hide her enmity toward her mother and Aegisthus, and to say the least, this makes her dangerous. Electra has a sister, Chrysothemis who’s also a victim of the regicide, but she lacks Electra’s incorrigible ferocity and resolve. Electra’s duty to herself, the state, and the gods has taken a toll, however. Greek tragedies specialize in impossible situations, e.g. the duty to kill one’s mother, etcetera, and Electra has been driven half-crazy by it all. Electra’s one hope is the return of her brother Orestes, with whom she must collude in the death of Clytemnestra and Aegisthus. But Orestes has been gone from Mycenae for years. One legend has it that he was smuggled safely away by his nurse following his father’s murder. Electra doesn’t know if he shall ever return, or even if he’s dead or alive

Image for post
Image for post
Mikhail Petrenko as Orest and Christine Goerke in the title role of Strauss’ “Elektra.” Photo: Karen Almond / Met Opera

To read the rest of Lindeman’s review, go to Riot Material magazine: http://www.riotmaterial.com/elektra-opera-in-one-act/

And please follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/riotmaterial/

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store