Elektra at the Lyric Opera offers thrills and chills

Elektra at the Lyric Opera offers thrills and chills
Nina Stemme as Elektra at the Lyric Opera's 2019 production Photo: Cory Weaver

The Trojan War began after Helen, sister-in-law of Mycenae’s King Agamemnon, eloped with Paris, Prince of Troy. Agamemnon, commander of the Greek forces, set off to reclaim Helen, sacrificing his daughter Iphigenia to ensure favorable winds for the journey. His traumatized wife Klytämnestra sought comfort in the arms of Agamemnon’s nephew, Aegisth (himself a child of incest). When Agamemnon returned, Klytämnestra and Aegisth murdered him and usurped his throne, to the horror and despair of Elektra, daughter of Klytämnestra and Agamemnon. Elektra was able to ensure that her brother Orest was sent away to safety before his mother and her lover could harm him...
a synopsis taken from the Lyric's program guide

Sir David McVicar's production of Richard Strauss’s Elektra opened Saturday, February 2, with performances through February 22 at the Lyric Opera House (20 N. Wacker Dr.) 

The operatic masterpiece from Greek mythology offers drama, chills, thrills and blood as Elektra, daughter of King Agamemnon, seeks revenge for her father's murder.

Nina Stemme. Photo: from Shelby Homiston (Lyric Opera, Chicago)

Nina Stemme. Photo: from Shelby Homiston (Lyric Opera, Chicago)

The story is played out in four distinct major scenes with soprano Nina Stemme (winner of the prestigious 2018 Birgit Nilsson Prize) on stage almost the entire time during the 1 hour and 40 minute, no intermission, production

From the moment Stemme steps on stage with with her opening soliloquy, “Allein! Weh, ganz allein,” ( “Alone! Alas, all alone--”My father gone! Lying neglected in his cold tomb!') we know we're in for an emotional rollercoaster

In her highly anticipated Lyric debut Stemme’s performance drives the tense drama through her subtle interpretations yielding a believability to Elektra's pain and motives without over-playing the role.

The entire production takes place in the inner courtyard of the palace at Mycenae with the staging, costume design and intensely orchestrated score building to its shocking conclusion while playing out the harrowing story of the outcast princess obsessed with avenging the murder of her father, King Agamemnon, at the hands of her mother Klytämnestra and her mother’s lover Aegisth, who’s claimed the throne.

 Acclaimed South African soprano Elza van den Heever portrays Elektra’s conflicted sister Chrysothemis, and American mezzo-soprano Michaela Martens takes on the role of the emotionally tortured Klytämnestra. Scottish bass-baritone Iain Paterson portrays long-lost brother Orest, and American tenor Robert Brubaker plays the creepy murderous usurper Aegisth (the latter two are making Lyric debuts).

The internationally heralded conductor Donald Runnicles conducts the Lyric Opera Orchestra, whose forces are expanded to meet the incredible demands of Strauss’s score. The production originally staged by Sir David McVicar to open Lyric’s 2012/13 season is designed by John Macfarlane, with lighting by Jennifer TiptonNick Sandys makes his Lyric debut as revival director, having served as fight choreographer in several Lyric productions. 

2012 PRODUCTION_Elektra_Lyric Opera of Chicago from Shelby Homiston (Lyric Opera, Chicago)

2012 PRODUCTION_Elektra_Lyric Opera of Chicago. Photo: Robert Kusel

Elektra is performed in German with projected English translations.

Rating: 3.5 stars
What: Elektra
WhereLyric Opera House (20 N. Wacker Dr.
When: Through February 22 with performances February 10, 14, 18, and 22. Performance times vary.
Tickets:  Tickets start at $37 and are available at lyricopera.org/Elektra or by calling 312-827-5600. 

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Filed under: Lyric Opera

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