With amazing music by an orchestra led by internationally acclaimed conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin and an amazing, amazing performance by Lise Lindstrom as Elektra, l’Opéra de Montréal brings us a must watch performance this season: Richard Strauss’s classic tragedy, based on the loss and trauma of Greek heroine Elektra.
The story of Elektra is legendary, both in myth and history. She has been brought to life innumerable times and this time she comes to life on a Montréal stage. Strauss’s version focuses on Elektra and her lust, thirst, drive and obsession with avenging the death of her father. This version completely excludes the back story of Agamemnon’s return from the Trojan War and being murdered by his wife Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus. Instead, we meet Elektra when she has returned to find out that her father is dead, and rumor is rife that her brother Oreste has followed suit. She is left grief stricken and fallen at the foot of her father’s statue (recreated as a gigantic statue that overpowers the aesthetic of the stage). Elektra pays her respects and is consumed by revenge and hatred for her mother and what she has done.
Lindstorm’s performance that spans over 100 minutes is overpowering and gripping and emotionally sultry and you witness why Elektra remains such an icon of Greek tragedy. The unique nature of Strauss’s adaptation is the centrality of Elektra, thus making this an extremely difficult and laborious part to play. Lindstorm does it resplendently!!! Her pain and suffering is only accentuated by the fact that she thinks her brother is also dead.
As the story turns, Elektra is partially restored when her brother Oreste reappears and they see each other, guided by the stature/statue of their father Agamemnon. Elektra is horrified at her own fall from grace and how unworthy she has become to even face her own brother. Her hair all disheveled, her appearance only street worthy and unkempt. Oreste embraces his sister, emboldening Elektra to convince Oreste to rise and seek revenge for the act that ended the mighty Agamemnon. The siblings come together in tragedy and the hope of redemption.
This version of Elektra was adapted as an expressionist focus on the tragedy of this one character and how stark and violent and full of rancor it can be. While she dabbles between wanting revenge and seeking some sort of relevance to her life, Elektra is about loss and a deep sense of pain that is brought to us by a gripping performance and continuously heightened by the rapturous music. The tragedy transforms her so much that she can only experience herself through self-deprecation.
Nicola Beller Carbone plays Chrysothemis (Elektra’s sister) and Alan Held sings Oreste. Carbone seemed a little rough in the beginning of the performance, but eventually her voice took charge and she matched Elektra’s every note. The rest of the cast had smaller stage time, but did well in their supporting roles.
The Opera (in German with English and French sub-titles) will be playing at Places des Arts on November 21, 24, 26, 28, 2015 at 7:30 pm.