Composer List


Genre List

Opera Length

Advanced Search

Photo: Dominic Photography
Royal Opera House

Strauss, Richard

Elektra (1906-8)

Duration: 100 minutes
Tragedy in one act

Libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal (G,Cz,E,F,I)

Major roles: 2dramS,M,T,Bar; minor roles: 5S,2M,A,T,2B,mimes; chorus 3(III=picc).picc.3(III=corA).heckelphone.4.Ebcl.2bhn.bcl.3.dbn- 8(V-VIII=ttba).6.btpt.4.1-timp(2).perc(3-4):glsp/tgl/ tamb/SD/whip/cyms/BD/tam-t-cel-2harp-strings(vln8.8.8, vla6(=vlnIV).6.6,vlc6.6,db8)
Reduced scoring: 3(II,III=picc).3(III=corA).3(III=Ebcl).bcl.3(III=dbn) - cym)/tam-t/2cast- 2harp-strings(vln8.8.8,vla6(=vlnIV).6.6,vlc6.6,db8)
Abbreviations (PDF)

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for all countries except Germany, Italy, Portugal, Danzig, and the former territories of the USSR.

World Premiere
Opernhaus, Dresden
Conductor: Ernst von Schuch
Company: Dresden Hofoper


KLYTEMNESTRA, widow of AgamemnonMezzo Soprano
ELEKTRA, daughter of KlytemnestraSoprano
CHRYSOTHEMIS, daughter of KlytemnestraSoprano
AEGISTH, Klytemnestra's paramourTenor
OREST, son of Agamemnon and KlytemnestraBaritone
Tutor to OrestBaritone
Confidante of KlytemnestraSoprano
Trainbearer of KlytemnestraSoprano
Young ServantTenor
Old ServantBass
1st MaidContralto
2nd and 3rd Maids2 Mezzo Sopranos
Chorus of servantschorus

Time and Place
Mycenae, Antiquity

Maids try to wash away the blood in the palace where Agamemnon was murdered by his wife Klytämnestra 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 Klytämnestra suffers nightmares of vengeance, is determined to confront their mother. Feigning a reconciliatory tone, Elektra gains Klytämnestra'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. Klytämnestra 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 Klytämnestra'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.

Dramatic, Tragic

History, Mythology, Relationships, Literary

Recommended Recording
Birgit Nilsson, Regina Resnik, Marie Collier, Gerhard Stolze, Tom Krause, Tugomir Franc, Margareta Sjöstedt, Margarita Lilowa, Gerhard Unger, Leo Heppe, Pauline Tinsley, Helen Watts, Maureen Lehane, Yvonne Minton, Jane Cook, Felicia Weathers, Vienna State Opera Chorus, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Georg Solti
Decca 4173452

Click here to purchase this CD set from Amazon


Mailing List

Sign up for news updates and offers via email

Audio Visual Gallery

Explore our library of 1500 online scores