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HomeOperaElectrifying 'Elektra' at Washington Nationwide Opera

Electrifying ‘Elektra’ at Washington Nationwide Opera


“Revenge,” Kurt Vonnegut wrote, “provokes revenge which provokes revenge which provokes revenge — forming an unbroken chain of dying and destruction linking nations of right now to barbarous tribes of hundreds and hundreds of years in the past.” Richard Strauss’ Elektra compresses the end result of one of the well-known chains of revenge in Western tradition into 100 intense, totally thrilling minutes in Washington Nationwide Opera’s present manufacturing.

Soprano Christine Goerke as Elektra in ‘Elektra.’ Picture by Scott Suchman.

The backstory: Agamemnon, searching for revenge for the Helen/Paris matter, desires to set sail to beat Troy. The gods inform Agamemnon that to get favorable winds for his fleet, he should sacrifice his daughter, Iphigenia. He does. His spouse, Klytämnestra, takes revenge by killing her husband. Agamemnon’s different youngsters, Elektra and Orest, then search vengeance towards Klytämnestra.

It’s at this level that the opera begins. Elektra (Christine Goerke) paces the stage, filled with livid vitality, her obsession to kill her mom uncontained. Goerke is spectacular within the position, her vocal and emotional energy overwhelming. I’ve not heard a dramatic soprano of her energy and precision on a Kennedy Heart stage since I noticed Galina Vishnevskaya in an impressive 1979 efficiency of Britten’s Conflict Requiem.

Elektra’s ardour manifests itself in her means to visualise acts of violence that she has not personally witnessed, whether or not wanting backward to her father’s homicide or ahead to her mom’s being hunted and killed. In Goerke’s characterization and singing, Elektra doesn’t a lot think about these moments as reside them.

Elektra’s sister, Chrysothemis (soprano Sara Jakubiak), is of a distinct thoughts and coronary heart, eager for a peaceable residence and household. In a scene of intricate sororal dynamics, Elektra employs each psychological ploy in her appreciable repertory to enlist her sister within the plan to homicide their mom. Jakubiak matches effectively vocally with Goerke of their scenes collectively — no imply feat. Her character is as decided to pursue her goal as Elektra is hers, her extra conventional femininity to not be confused with weak point.

Soprano Christine Goerke as Elektra and soprano Sara Jakubiak as Chrysothemis in ‘Elektra.’ Picture by Scott Suchman.

Elektra’s manipulations have extra success along with her meant sufferer. Strauss’ vocal and orchestral music for Klytämnestra (mezzo-soprano Katarina Dalayman) is noticeably decrease in quantity than for the opposite main characters, in line with the bodily and psychological deterioration of the character. Illuminating her character’s concern within the anxious tones of her vocal strains, she leans on a scepter like a cane, her thoughts contorted by fixed scary goals. Elektra toys along with her prey, who desires to know what animal sacrifice will finish her nightmares. Elektra enjoys main her to the reveal of the meant blood sacrifice.

However what of Orest? Reported useless — a lot to the delight of Klytämnestra and her supporters — he turns up in disguise. After initially not recognizing him, Elektra joins him in a rapturous reunion. With a vibrant sound, bass-baritone Ryan Speedo-Inexperienced initiatives stable masculine energy in a state of affairs in any other case dominated by its feminine characters. This revenge has the sanction of the gods, and it’s the man’s duty to hold it out. And when the job is finished, he crowns himself king, Napoleon-style, in a short, chilling contact on the opera’s conclusion.

Orest is as much as the duty.

Bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Inexperienced as Orest in ‘Elektra.’ Picture by Scott Suchman.

The dramatic arc of the story is way extra easy and propulsive than in lots of operas in the usual repertory. Nonetheless, what I depend as a weak point within the libretto is the anticlimactic look of Aegisth, Klytämnestra’s consort, in a brief position for tenor Stefan Margita. Within the peak second of the dramatic pressure of the opera, Klytämnestra has already been killed. Aegisth wanders on after the very fact, his seemingly restricted wits addled by alcohol. Elektra all too simply steers this inebriated, although removed from harmless, lamb to the slaughter.

Too usually operas lavatory down in stand-and-sing stasis. Not this manufacturing. Director Francesca Zambello retains the solid in fixed, stressed movement, their motion embodying the disturbance of their souls. Zambello’s course additionally makes this manufacturing one through which the characters are as vivid because the singing. The staging can also be in line with the fixed perturbation of Strauss’ large orchestral rating, which, underneath Evan Rogister’s course of the Washington Nationwide Opera Orchestra, contributes not simply knowledgeable accompaniment to the singers however energy and colour of its personal, particularly in passages that includes the brass.

Erhard Rom’s set is an attention-grabbing mixture of classical and trendy. There’s a tall column and fallen pediment items, on considered one of which “Agamemnon” is spelled out, suggesting the decline of the state’s legitimacy. Parts of a dying masks of Agamemnon are projected onto the set at instances. A lot of the remainder of the set is huge and modernist, with buildings at disquieting angles, suggesting to me, no less than, the hyperlinks between Bronze Age revenge and the revanchist nationalism of right now.

Bibhu Mohapatra’s costumes are effectively suited to the characters and their variations. Elektra is in a pale, subdued outfit, contrasted with Chrysothemis’ flowing blue robe and the glowing regal crimson worn by Klytämnestra. Orest is in blue, army garb, full with armor.

Mezzo-soprano Katarina Dalayman (heart) as Klytämnestra in ‘Elektra.’ Picture by Scott Suchman.

There are a pair oddities within the staging of the latter portion of the present. The murders of Klytämnestra and Aegisth are depicted on a excessive, upstage platform slotted into one of many bigger set parts, wanting from the home virtually as if in miniature. Following the custom of Greek tragedy through which a lot of the violence takes place offstage, with the deal with characters’ reactions as they hear of it, may have been stronger. Within the midst of the mayhem, Elektra forgets the axe she meant to offer to Orest, resulting in what performed as an “oops” second and drew a most likely unintended chuckle from the viewers.

Beginning with the vocal performances of Goerke and the remainder of the solid, Washington Nationwide Opera’s Elektra is a stunningly efficient combination of all the weather that make opera value attending. It was among the many easiest opera experiences I’ve loved in my a long time within the Washington space.

Operating Time: One hour 40 minutes, with no intermission.

Elektra performs 5 extra performances from October 31 by way of November 12, 2022, introduced by Washington Nationwide Opera performing on the Kennedy Heart Opera Home, 2700 F St NW, Washington, DC. Tickets ($45–$269) can be found on the field workplace, on-line, or by calling (202) 467-4600 or (800) 444-1324.

This system for Elektra is on-line right here.

COVID Security: Masks are non-compulsory in all Kennedy Heart areas for guests and employees. When you desire to put on a masks, you’re welcome to take action. See Kennedy Heart’s full COVID Security Plan right here.

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