Richard Strauss

Tragedy in one act Libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal

Premiere 19. January 2014

Performed in German with German and English supertitles

For years Elektra has been awaiting the fateful hour when she can avenge the death of her father Agamenon, murdered by his wife Klytaemnestra and her lover Aegisth. Every day Elektra nurtures her hatred, while her sister Chrysothemis vainly hopes to escape from their icy home and Klytaemnestra, plagued by feelings of guilt, is unable to sleep. However, when Orest finally arrives to take revenge, Elektra’s life also loses its only meaning. On stage, a chamber play; from the pit, orchestral fireworks: In »Elektra« the audience is gripped by an unfolding family tragedy of violence and depravity that is also a psychological study of guilt and redemption, forgiveness and revenge, and the question of justice. Richard Strauss wrote »Elektra« in 1909 for Dresden’s Royal Opera House as the successor to his »Salome«. Together with the poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal, he threw a modern and savagely incisive light on this ancient mythological tale. Director Barbara Frey has staged Strauss’s opera as a thrilling drama. 


The maids are awaiting Elektra, who is mourning over her father at this moment. They ridicule her and her cult of the dead and they have no sympathy for her still being tolerated at court by Klytaemnestra. Only one maid refers to Elektra’s royalty and bemoans that she is constantly humiliated and beaten. Elektra crawls out of her shed. She is overcome with the memory of how her mother and Aegisth, her mother’s lover, have beaten her father to death. She implores Agamemnon to show himself and sees that the time for vengeance is coming. Chrysothemis has news: Klytaemnestra plans to incarcerate Elektra. She reproaches her sister for being responsible for her confined life. Her only wish is to leave this house because their brother Orest, whom they are expecting eagerly, would certainly not be arriving anymore. The mother announces herself. Chrysothemis leaves, knowing that her mother has had a bad dream. But Elektra is looking for a confrontation. Klytaemnestra is surprised that Elektra seems to be receptive today. She confides the bad nights to her. She is desperately searching for a way to dispose of these dreams. Elektra knows that her brother Orest is the solution. Klytaemnestra forbids her to speak about him. But Elektra screams into her mother’s face that she wants to see her die at the hand of her brother, the same way her father once died. When two servants whisper something to Klytaemnestra, Elektra does not understand her mother’s reaction. Chrysothemis storms to Elektra with news of Orest’s death. A servant delivers the message to Aegisth, who is in the countryside. Elektra knows that it is now up to them to proceed to action. But Chrysothemis does not want to get involved in the murder of Klytaemnestra and Aegisth. Elektra decides to do it alone. A stranger enters and reports that Orest has been trampled by his own horses. Elektra is overcome with emotion. The stranger, thinking that Elektra is only a lower servant, is surprised by her sympathy for Orest’s fate. The siblings recognize each other, because the stranger is Orest. He has come to avenge his father and only faked his death to be able to be admitted to the house. Trembling, he enters the house. A death cry is heard shortly afterwards. The servants of the house are frightened and terrified. Aegisth returns from the countryside. Elektra shows him the way into the house and to his own death. Elektra collapses.