STRAUSS : Elektra

Music composed by Richard Strauss. Libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal .

First Performance: 25 January 1909, Opernhaus, Dresden

Principal Characters:
Klytemnestra, widow of Agamemnon Mezzo Soprano
Elektra, daughter of Klytemnestra Soprano
Chrysothemis, daughter of Klytemnestra Soprano
Aegisth, Klytemnestra’s paramour Tenor
Orest, son of Agamemnon and Klytemnestra Baritone
Tutor to Orest Baritone
Confidante of Klytemnestra Soprano
Trainbearer of Klytemnestra Soprano
Young Servant Tenor
Old Servant Bass
Overseer Soprano
1st Maid Contralto
2nd and 3rd Maids 2 Mezzo Sopranos

Setting: Ancient Mycenae


Maids try to wash away the blood in the palace where Agamemnon was murdered by his wife
Klytemnestra and her lover Aegisth. The princess Elektra, in dishevilled state, enters the
courtyard for her daily ritual of lamenting her dead father. She swears vengeance and awaits the
return of her brother Orest to enact the deed. Her sister Chrysothemis warns her of the royal
couple’s plans to imprison Elektra and describes her yearning for motherhood. Elektra scorns her
and, on hearing that Klytemnestra suffers nightmares of vengeance, is determined to confront
their mother. Feigning a reconciliatory tone, Elektra gains Klytemnestra’s confidence, and they
remember happier times when Agamemnon was alive. The Queen, plagued physically and
mentally, begs her daughter to help but Elektra promises that only death can bring relief and
describes how Agememnon’s murder will be avenged. Klytemnestra receives a message and
leaves with joyous laughter. Chysothemis returns to tell Elektra that two strangers have arrived
with news of the death of Orest. Elektra demands that the two sisters carry out the deed
themselves but Chrysothemis refuses. Alone, Elektra digs up the axe that murdered her father.
One of the strangers reveals himself as Orest, and brother and sister are reunited. Orest enters the
palace and Klytemnestra’s death cries are heard. Aegisth returns and Elektra lights his way into
the palace to meet his doom. As the court celebrates the return of Orest, Elektra dances in
triumph and falls lifeless to the ground. Chrysothemis hammers on the closed doors of the palace
calling her brother’s name.

[Synopsis Source: Boosey & Hawkes]

Click here for the complete libretto.

image_description=Electra at the Tomb of Agamemnon by Frederic Leighton (1869) [Source: Wikipedia]
first_audio_name=Richard Strauss: Elektra
product_title=Richard Strauss: Elektra
product_by=Ursula Schrˆder-Feinen (Elektra)
Gwyneth Jones (Chrysothemis)
Christa Ludwig (Klytemnestra)
Theo Adam (Orest)
Hans Beirer (Aegisth)
Horst Stein (cond.)
Live performance: Wiener Staatsoper, 10 November 1977
product_id=Above: Electra at the Tomb of Agamemnon by Frederic Leighton (1869) [Source: Wikipedia]