Metropoltian Opera broadcasts continue on Classical 90.5 at 10:00 a.m. this Saturday, April 30, with a performance of Elektra by Richard Strauss. Elektra was Strauss's first collaboration with Viennese author and poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal, who would go on to write five other librettos for Strauss over the following 20 years, in one of the most remarkable partnerships in theater history.
Shortly after conquering the opera world with his scandalous masterpiece Salome, Richard Strauss turned to von Hofmannsthal’s recent adaptation of Sophocles’s Electra for his next project. The resulting opera is an intense and still-startling work that unites the commanding impact of Greek tragedy with the unsettling insights of early-20th-century Freudian psychology. The drama unfolds in a single act of rare vocal and orchestral power.
The orchestra for Elektra is often cited as the largest for any repertory opera. It opens and closes the drama with a crashing motive that represents Agamemnon, Elektra’s father, who even in death dominates the lives of his family. The score encompasses an astonishing range of musical color: there are moments of sublime lyricism when the characters express tenderness or love, and there is brutal, harsh dissonance when they are at (or beyond) the bounds of sanity.
The performance will be sung in German and will run approximately two hours and ten minutes. Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts.