Metropolitan Opera HD presents ‘Elektra’ in Breckenridge
and Cecile Forsberg
Special to the Daily
if you go
What: Met Opera Live in HD: Richard Strauss’ “Elektra”
When: Saturday, April 30, 10:55 a.m.
Where: Colorado Mountain College, Finkel Auditorium, 107 Denison Placer Road, Breckenridge
Cost: Student $10 / Senior (65+) $16 / Adult $20
More information: nromusic.com or (970) 453-5825
The Metropolitan Opera High Definition broadcast of the Richard Strauss opera, “Elektra,” will be held at the Colorado Mountain College, Breckenridge, on Saturday, April 30, beginning at 11 a.m. Strauss’s blazing tragedy about an ancient Greek princess, hell-bent on revenge, will be the last HD broadcast for the 2015-16 repertoire. The broadcast is brought to you by a partnership between National Repertory Orchestra and Colorado Mountain College.
“Elektra” is performed in one act, lasting one hour and 45 minutes. The opera is based on a classic Greek tragedy by playwright Sophocles, dating back to the 4th Century BCE. The opera libretto was written by Hugo von Hofmannsthal, adapted from his 1903 drama of the same name. The Strauss opera “Elektra” was first performed at the Dresden State Opera in 1909.
The story of Elektra has been viewed as revolving around what may be the most dysfunctional family in all of literature. Prior to the opening curtain, we learn that Elektra’s mother, Klytamnestra, sung by Mezzo-soprano Waltraud Meier, had murdered her husband, King Agamemnon. Elektra next enters the scene in a tirade, distraught over the murder of her father, vowing vengeance to plan for taking the life of her mother. Her sister, Chrysothemis, sung by Adrianna Pieczonka, appears urging Elektra to give up her obsession of revenge so both can lead normal lives. Elektra mocks her sister, who runs off when hearing from the palace door the approach of her mother.
Disoriented, Klytamnestra staggers in, affected from the use of drugs and the loss of sleep in fear of retribution for her murder of Agamemnon. She appeals to Elektra to help her find peace of mind. Elektra screams back that it is Klyamnestra herself who must die, an act to be committed by banished son and brother, Orest, sung by bass-baritone, Eric Owens. Shortly afterwards Chrysothemis appears with news that Orest is dead, as Klyamnestra leaves the scene. In his absence, Elektra pleads with her sister, Chrysothemis, to join her in the murder plot.
The opera ends when an unknown stranger appears, who turns out to be Orest, giving Elektra unspeakable joy. He next enters the palace, and shortly afterwards Elektra hears a scream from within, confirming that Orest has murdered their mother. In a state of ecstasy, Elektra begins a triumphal dance, at the end of which she loses her balance and falls unconscious to the floor.
The genius producer, Patrice Chéreau, died two years before this great Metropolitan Opera premier production, deemed a landmark of contemporary opera staging. The current opera set, designed by Richard Peduzzi, takes place in the palace — a spare, ominous place, with tall, grim stone walls, dark crannies and side doors, with the private quarters of Klytamnestra and Aganenmnon in the background. The orchestra, under the baton of Esa-Pekka Solomon, one of Chéreau’s past musical collaborators, has been cited as the largest for any repertory opera, and in this performance has been described as encompassing an astonishing range of musical color.
Anthony Tommasini, in his recent New York Times preview of this opening production of “Elektra,” states “nothing prepared me for the seething intensity, psychological insight and sheer theatrical inventiveness of this performance.” Although Elektra is a difficult, musically complex work requiring great stamina to perform, the several voices have been described as “rich, bright and sung with piercing power.”
In celebration of the Metropolitan Opera’s anniversary of the 10th year of HD broadcasts, and to the staff and administration of both the Colorado Mountain College and National Repertory Orchestra for their fourth anniversary participation, light snacks will be available at no cost at the conclusion of this one-act opera, for camaraderie and to offset any negative reflections after viewing this tragic opera.
The Met Opera is a partnership between Colorado Mountain College and the National Repertory Orchestra. Elmer Koneman is a volunteer and opera enthusiast; Cecile Forsberg is the artistic and operations director with the NRO.
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