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Elektra

Music Richard Strauss Text Hugo von Hofmannsthal
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Cast 08.01.2023

Conductor Alexander Soddy
Production Harry Kupfer
Szenische Einstudierung Angela Brandt
Stage Design Hans Schavernoch
Costume Design Reinhard Heinrich
Klytämnestra Violeta Urmana
Elektra Nina Stemme
Chrysothemis Simone Schneider
Aegisth Thomas Ebenstein
Orest Christof Fischesser
Der Pfleger des Orest Marcus Pelz
Die Vertraute Miriam Kutrowatz
Die Schleppträgerin Alma Neuhaus
Ein junger Diener Robert Bartneck
Ein alter Diener Dan Paul Dumitrescu
Die Aufseherin Stephanie Houtzeel
Erste Magd Monika Bohinec
Zweite Magd Szilvia Vörös
Dritte Magd Daria Sushkova
Vierte Magd Regine Hangler
Fünfte Magd Aurora Marthens

Details

Summary: The inwardly and outwardly lonely Elektra has renounced the world and only thinks of revenge: her mother Klytämnestra and her lover Aegisth are to die for the murder of Elektra's father, Agamemnon. For her part, Clytemnestra is tormented by nightmares and memories. Elektra does not succeed in winning her sister Chrysothemis for the plan to murder Clytemnestra and Aegisth. A mysterious stranger, who reveals himself to be her brother Orestes, finally commits the crime. Elektra then dances a last, ecstatic dance.

CONTENT

Background

Agamemnon, King of Mycenae, and his wife Clytemnestra have four children: Iphigenia, Electra, Chrysothemis and Orestes. When the Greek fleet is ready to set sail for Troy, a calm keeps the ships in port. Agamemnon must sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia to appease the goddess Artemis so that she will create favourable winds for his journey. Clytemnestra will never forgive her husband for this. During Agamemnon’s absence fighting for Troy, Clytemnestra enters into a relationship with Aegisthus. When Agamemnon returns home, Clyte­mnestra and Aegisthus feign a joyous welcome. They then murder the defenceless man with an axe as he sits in his bath. After her father is murdered, Electra succeeds in bringing her young brother to safety. She herself nurses one thought: to avenge the murder.

Plot

Electra has dissociated herself from society and above all from Aegisthus and Clytemnestra; she lives in isolation, bound in her thoughts to Agamemnon. She unrelentingly nurtures her hate, counting on Orestes’ return to avenge the mur­der. The five maid servants, supervised by the overseer, comment on Electra’s behaviour: spiteful, pretentious, fearful. Only the youngest maid servant stands up for Electra and is chastened for doing so. Electra invokes Agamemnon and goes into raptures over her bloody vision. Chrysothemis interrupts Electra’s monologue and warns her sister: Aegisthus and Clytemnestra are planning to incarcerate her in a tower. When Chrysothemis implies that she will come to terms with them in order to realize her desire to be a mother, Electra scornfully puts her in her place. Plagued by memories and anxiety dreams, the restless Clytemnestra tries to talk to Electra, hoping to find out from her what blood sacrifice or rites would bring her relief. Electra responds tantalizingly, enigmatically, cryptically, and frightens her mother with questions about Orestes. However, when Clytemnestra is brought news by her confidante, her dread gives way to an obvious sense of triumph. Electra is annoyed, until she learns the news from Chrysothemis – their brother Orestes is dead. Electra refuses to believe it, but must then give credence to the messenger’s report. She decides to wreak vengeance herself, and determines that Chrysothemis should help her. With tenderness and outward affection, Electra tries to win her sister’s support for her plan to murder Clytemnestra and Aegisthus. However, Chrysothemis evades her sister, who curses her. Now Elec­tra is resolved to perform the deed herself. A stranger arrives, passing himself off as a messenger who has come to tell Clytemnestra of the death of Orestes. Electra’s despair moves him to ask her name. Only then does he reveal that he is her brother – Orestes! Electra urges him to murder the couple to avenge his father, a deed Orestes pledges to carry out swiftly. Left alone, Elektra awaits further events... Clytemnestra’s death screams and the confusion of the maid servants assure her that revenge has in part been ex­acted. Aegisthus, fetched by the servants, wants to hear the news of Orestes’ death himself. With flattering words, Electra guides him to the place where she knows the avenger to be, who kills him shortly thereafter. Consumed with joy that revenge has been exacted, Electra begins a last ecstatic dance...

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

From the very first moment, the music threatens, seethes and rages: in Elektra, premiered in 1909, Richard Strauss retold the ancient family story for his time. In doing so, he wanted to contrast the »demonic ecstatic Greekness« with a smoothed-out, classical historical image and push the musical power of intensification to the extreme - after all, he went to the limits of the time in terms of harmony and polyphony. The starting point for his work was Hugo von Hofmannsthal's Elektra drama, which Max Reinhardt staged in Berlin with the fascinating actress Gertrud Eysoldt in the title role. Influenced by the great psychological designs and studies of his time - Sigmund Freud and Josef Breuer - Hofmannsthal designed a modern, psychologically motivated work that allows an introspection of the actors. It is not the great mechanics of fate that drive the characters, but rather the emotional feelings, the traumas, the breaks in identity.

Even in Harry Kupfer's legendary production, it is not about an ancient story, but about a confrontation with violence and counter-violence, about power and manipulation, about oppression. In the shadow of the mighty Agamemnon statue, Kupfer tells the story of all dictatorships - and their consequences.