The following activities will help familiarize your students with the plot of Elektra, forge connections between a variety of classroom subjects, and creative responses to the opera. They are designed to be accessible to a wide array of ages and experience levels.
“Blood Will Have Blood”
Delve into the question of revenge. Have students read Sir Francis Bacon’s essay “On Revenge,” and then help them apply the ideas in the essay to Elektra. As they work through the opera’s story, invite them to consider: When (and under what conditions) may revenge be justified?
“We’re All Mad Here”
Explore a variety of psychological theories, and the invite students to create a diagnostic examination of a character’s mental state by considering the character’s conflicts, dreams, desires, insecurities, and fears.
Teach students about trauma and resiliency. Ask students to apply what they’ve learned to analyze the characters in Elektra, and then invite them to think more broadly about what makes a healthy basis for a person’s life.
Musical Character Analysis
Using a variety of analytic and close-listening techniques, help students explore three arias (“Allein! Weh, ganz allein,” “Ich kann nicht sitzen,” and “Wie stark du bist!”) and an orchestral passage (“Elektra!—Schweig, und tanze!”) from Elektra. Guide their analysis towards comparing and contrasting the music of Elektra and her sister, Chrysothemis, and then use their musical analysis to identify the sisters’ different perspectives, priorities, and motivations, as well as the state of their relationship.
COMMON CORE CONNECTIONS
These activities directly support the following ELA-Literacy Common Core Strands:
Interpret, analyze, and evaluate narratives, poetry, and drama, aesthetically and philosophically by making connections to: other texts, ideas, cultural perspectives, eras, personal events, and situations.
Develop innovative perspectives on texts, including historical, cultural, sociological, and psychological contexts.
Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that probe reasoning and evidence; ensure a hearing for a full range of positions on a topic or issue; clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions; and promote divergent and creative perspectives.