Elektra: Richard Strauss's hellish masterpiece

Edmonton Opera Blog

Elektra: Richard Strauss's hellish masterpiece

In just three weeks, Edmonton Opera will present the Alberta premiere of Richard Strauss’s groundbreaking theatrical triumph Elektra. Based on an ancient Greek play by Sophocles, this opera follows the terrifying tragedy of its protagonist as she becomes consumed with lethal revenge.

Devastated by the murder of her beloved father, Elektra takes justice into her own hands and pursues the killer, who happens to be her own mother Klytämnestra. But when calculated revenge turns into overpowering obsession, Elektra can no longer maintain her grasp on reality — in a spine-chilling climax, Elektra’s fragile psyche shatters completely.

Intrigued? Here is more of what you can expect in our new production set in a dystopian post-apocalyptic future. You do not want to miss seeing the axe-wielding protagonist of Elektra in action.

There will be blood.

Elektra was born into a family ripped apart by war and chaos. Her father, King Agamemnon, had chosen to sacrifice his oldest daughter Iphigenia as a way to appease the gods before heading to battle. This decision was fiercely opposed by his wife Klytämnestra, and she swore to avenge the spilling of her innocent daughter’s blood.

When Agamemnon returned home victorious after several years at war, Klytämnestra and her lover Aegisth murdered him and took over the kingdom. Elektra and her sister Chrysothemis became prisoners in their own home, while their brother Orest was banished for threatening to ascend the throne that was rightfully his.

All of this happens before Elektra even begins, setting the stage for an opera that could only end in more tragedy.

Honour thy father, not thy mother

Elektra is beyond furious at the killing of her beloved father; the only thing on her mind is revenge. She also misses him with an intensity that affects her physical and mental health, causing her to wander around in grief.

This opera’s greatest aria is Elektra’s 10-minute long soliloquy dedicated to her father. She shouts “Agamemnon, Agamemnon!” almost like an incantation, praying for his return from the dead.

Elektra’s anguish soon transforms into rage — now all she wants is revenge. Her mother Klytämnestra needs to die. Nothing and no one can come in Elektra’s path to slaughtering her nemesis.

Opera’s most dangerous woman

The polar opposite of our recent production Cinderella, Strauss’s tormented heroine is determined to take fate in her own hands and pursue the brutal revenge she spends all her waking hours thinking about. From the moment Elektra appears on stage, you know that terrible things are about to unfold in the next hour and a half. With axe in hand and fire in her step, Elektra charges forward to complete her murderous mission.

There’s more to come! Watch for our next blog post where we explore the origins of this opera in a violent Greek tragedy. And learn more about the hair-raising music of Elektra!


Experience the intense psychological thriller March 11, 14 & 16 at the Jubilee. Tickets from $40! 


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