Richard Strauss

Elektra

Christine Goerke sings her first Elektra at the Met in Patrice Chéreau’s landmark production, a sensation at its Met premiere last spring, which the Wall Street Journal called “revolutionary … a triumph on all fronts.” Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts Strauss’s shattering score, a tour de force for the singers and the orchestra alike.

Production a gift of Robert L. Turner

Additional funding from the National Endowment for the Arts

Read Synopsis
  • Sung In
  • German
  • Met Titles In
  • English
  • German
  • Spanish
  • Estimated Run Time
  • 1 hrs 44 mins
  • House Opens
  • 104 mins
  • Opera Ends
Mar 1 - Mar 23 Subscribe Now

Cast

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Performed
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World premiere: Court Opera, Dresden, 1909. Met premiere: December 3, 1932. Shortly after conquering the opera world with his scandalous masterpiece Salome, Richard Strauss turned to Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s recent adaptation of Sophocles’s Electra for his next project. The resulting opera is an intense and still-startling work that unites the commanding impact of Greek tragedy with the unsettling insights of early-20th-century Freudian psychology. The drama unfolds in a single act of rare vocal and orchestral power.

Creators

Munich-born Richard Strauss (1864–1949) composed an impressive body of orchestral works and songs before devoting the second half of his long and productive career to the stage. Elektra marks his first collaboration with Viennese author and poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal (1874–1929), who would go on to write five other librettos for Strauss over the following 20 years, in one of the most remarkable partnerships in theater history.

Production Patrice Chéreau

Stage Director Vincent Huguet

Set Designer Richard Peduzzi

Costume Designer Caroline de Vivaise

Lighting Designer Dominique Bruguière

Richard Strauss

Composer

Richard Strauss

Setting

The story takes place in Mycenae, Greece, some years after the end of the Trojan War. This mythically resonant era has inspired opera composers for centuries, including Monteverdi (Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria, 1640), Gluck (Iphigénie en Tauride, 1779), Mozart (Idomeneo, 1781), Strauss himself (Die Ägyptische Helena, 1928), and, more recently, Marvin David Levy (Mourning Becomes Electra, 1967). The Met’s production is set in an unspecified contemporary space.

Music

The orchestra for Elektra is often cited as the largest for any repertory opera. It opens and closes the drama with a crashing motive that represents Agamemnon, Elektra’s father, who even in death dominates the lives of his family. The score encompasses an astonishing range of musical color: there are moments of sublime lyricism when the characters express tenderness or love, and there is brutal, harsh dissonance when they are at (or beyond) the bounds of sanity.

Met History

Met performances of Elektra have been dominated by a succession of outstanding singing actresses who took on the tour-de-force title role: Rose Pauly (pictured here with Paul Althouse as Aegisth) in 1938, Astrid Varnay in 1952, and, beginning in 1966, Birgit Nilsson, who often starred opposite Leonie Rysanek as Chrysothemis and Regina Resnik as Klytämnestra. In the first few decades, Elektra frequently shared the stage on double bills with such unlikely companions as Gianni SchicchiPagliacci, or Menotti’s Amelia Goes to the Ball.