Most recent performance
There are currently no scheduled performances of Elektra. It was last on stage 23 September—12 October 2013 as part of the Autumn 2013/14 season.
Klytämnestra has murdered her husband, King Agamemnon. Her daughter Elektra determines to avenge her father’s death.
With the first chords of Elektra, we are plunged into a psychologically intense and violent world. The opera shocked audiences (and even its performers!) when it had its premiere in Dresden in 1909. Today, as then, Elektra’s desperate need to avenge the murder of her father by her mother makes for gripping drama. At 90 minutes, the opera is one of Strauss’s most concentrated works, and in style and instrumentation one of his most modernist scores.
The political and social fractures in early 20th-century Europe, and emerging concepts of psychology, provide a rich subtext in Charles Edwards’s production. The set and costumes allude to Classical and early 20th-century art and architecture, and highlight the moral decay at the heart of Klytämnestra’s kingdom. Strauss’s richly-orchestrated score takes the principal singers to their vocal limits. It is characterized by dramatic musical motifs, including the distinctive ‘Agamemnon’ motif, used to represent Elektra’s obsessive thoughts of revenge. This highly dramatic opera also contains passages of great vocal beauty, including Elektra’s rapturous recognition of her brother Orest, returned to avenge his father.
News and features
Debate: Are intervals a frustrating distraction from the drama or a valuable break to gather thoughts?24 February 2015
Which works do you think could do with an interval tweak?
11 August 2014
Our A-Z of Strauss series takes a closer look at the composer; from the debate over his Nazi sympathies, to his fondness for yodelling.
26 June 2014
Without the Austrian director, we wouldn't have the vision-led operas we love to debate today.
13 June 2014
Richard Strauss was renowned for writing for the soprano voice. Here's a brief guide to some of our favourite roles.
27 May 2014
The 18th century librettist-turned-New York grocer da Ponte wrote some of Strauss's favourite libretti, and in part inspired Elektra and Die Frau ohne Schatten.
Joyce DiDonato, Michael Volle, George Benjamin and The Royal Opera's Elektra shortlisted for RPS Music Awards 201415 April 2014
List of previous winners reads like a who's who of classical music.
Elektra, Op. 58, is a one-act opera by Richard Strauss, to a German-language libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal, which he adapted from his 1903 drama Elektra. The opera was the first of many collaborations between Strauss and Hofmannsthal. It was first performed at the Dresden State Opera on January 25, 1909. Elektra is a difficult, musically complex work which requires great stamina to perform. The role of Elektra, in particular, is one of the most demanding in the dramatic soprano repertoire. Despite being based on ancient Greek mythology, the opera is highly modernist and expressionist. Hofmannsthal and Strauss's adaptation of the story focuses tightly on Elektra, thoroughly developing her character by single-mindedly expressing her emotions and psychology as she meets with other characters, mostly one at a time. The other characters are Klytaemnestra, her mother and one of the murderers of her father Agamemnon; her sister, Chrysothemis; her brother, Orestes; and Klytaemnestra's lover, Aegisthus. These characters are secondary, and typically remain one-dimensional. Everything else from the myth is minimized as background to Elektra's character and her obsession. Other aspects of the ancient story are completely excluded, tightening the focus on Elektra's furious lust for revenge. The result is a very modern, expressionistic retelling of the ancient Greek myth. Compared to Sophocles's Electra, the opera presents raw, brutal, violent, and bloodthirsty horror.