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

Scoring

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) -4.6.3.1-timp.perc:glsp/tgl/tamb/SD/whip/cyms/BD(with cym)/tam-t/2cast- 2harp-strings(vln8.8.8,vla6(=vlnIV).6.6,vlc6.6,db8)

Abbreviations (PDF)

World Premiere
25/01/1909
Opernhaus, Dresden
Conductor: Ernst von Schuch
Company: Dresden Hofoper

Roles

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
Chorus of servants chorus
Time and Place

Mycenae, Antiquity

Synopsis

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.

Moods

Dramatic, Tragic

Subjects

History, Literary, Mythology, Relationships

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

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Elektra


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