Richard Strauss’ twisted psychodrama, Elektra, returns to the COC stage with commanding star soprano Christine Goerke in the title role. Rooted in classic Greek tragedy, the one-act opera is an expressionist take on the ultimate tale of family dysfunction: Elektra’s lust to avenge her father’s murder at the hands of her mother and her mother’s lover. Fury and obsession spiral into horrific consequence as Elektra careens down a path of total destruction, all set to an unrelenting modern score. Elektra runs for seven performances on January 26, 31, February 6, 10, 12, 16, 22, 2019.
If you are new to opera and want a taste of Strauss at his best and with some brevity (by Opera standards), Elektra is for you. The set design from Derek McLane’s and his stark aesthetic mirrors characters’ raw emotions and impulses. Costume designer Anita Stewart and lighting designer Mimi Jordan Sherin add to the nightmarish world onstage with lurid colours and design elements influenced by the art of Francis Bacon and Edvard Munch.
Elektra is bloody, intense with a heart pulsing drama that spews dashes of excruciating howls for good measure. Thankfully the Canadian Opera Company landed the rock star of opera in the incomparable Christine Goerke who shook the Metropolitan Opera with “the thrilling power of her voice” (New York Times) as their Elektra last season. Goerke’s performance will destroy even the most seasoned opera fan. She embodies a verve that is demonstrative of her years of experience and is guaranteed to make you want to see more of her in the future. No matter what the price. Think trail blazer. Think icon.
Canadian soprano Erin Wall is Elektra’s sister, Chrysothemis; she returns to the COC after a “sublime” (Chicago Tribune) performance in Idomeneo. Wall is soul crushing in her approach and will make you yearn for more. The athleticism witnessed by the likes of Goerke and Wall is truly a feat. These women are at the top of their professional game. Don’t be saddled with a FOMO.
British dramatic soprano Susan Bullock brings her “formidable focus and power” (Financial Times) to the role of Elektra’s conniving mother, Klytämnestra, while German bass Wilhelm Schwinghammer makes his COC debut as her brother, Orest. Canadian tenor Michael Schade rounds out the cast, bringing his “crystal-clean intonation” and “even, forward-placed legato” (OperaWire) to Klytämnestra’s lover – and conspirator – Aegisth.
Strauss’ frenetically charged score forms the backbone of the opera, pressing the action forward to its grisly end and COC Music Director Johannes Debus leads the COC Orchestra in rising to the challenge. All performances of Elektra feature the COC Chorus, led by Price Family Chorus Master Sandra Horst.
Take some time out this winter season to explore all that the Canadian Opera Company has to offer. They will be sure to keep you warm and toasty.
Elektra is sung in German and presented by the COC with English SURTITLES™.