Music Richard Strauss Text Hugo von Hofmannsthal
→ Tragödie in einem Aufzug

29. June 2021
No intermission
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Cast 29.06.2021

Musical Direction Franz Welser-Möst
Production Harry Kupfer
Szenische Einstudierung Angela Brandt
Stage Design Hans Schavernoch
Costume Design Reinhard Heinrich


»We must recreate the myth«, wrote Hugo von Hofmannsthal in 1903, demanding to »let shadows rise again from the blood.« 1903 marks the year of the premiere of Hofmannsthal’s tragedy Elektra, which, though based on Sophocles, is a reinterpretation of the antique writings, with Hofmannsthal making use of modern means to get close to the groundbreaking psychological studies of Sigmund Freud and Josef Breuer. Together with composer Richard Strauss, who at the time still enjoyed a reputation as a daring innovator, the very Tragedy in one Act was created on the basis of this theatrical rendition, which after it premiered in 1909, was the beginning of what would become a long-lasting collaboration between the two artists. Elektra's identity is shattered after the traumatic murder of her father Agamemnon. She becomes manic in recounting a memory of how her father was murdered and cannot stop herself from compulsively thinking about this act. To further emphasize the murder, the stage design borrows from Harry Kupfer's haunting 1989 production and displays an oversized statue of the father on stage, dominating the story that unfolds below: decapitated but not entirely toppled, with a globe resting under foot. Harry Kupfer’s direction created a destructive and manipulating image of Elektra, artfully displaying the constellation of figures, avoiding a stencil-like categorization of good and evil, and showing the desperation, loneliness and drive of the perpetrators. Taking over the 2020-21 season, Franz Welser-Möst is back at the conductor's podium of the Vienna State Opera for the first time since 2014.