The Metropolitan Opera Presents: Season 4, Episode 3

Elektra (16 Feb. 1980)
"Live from the Metropolitan Opera" Elektra (original title)

TV Episode  -   -  Music
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Electra, like her brother Orestes and younger sister Chrysothemis, is a child of the Mycenaean king Agamemnon, who went off to the Trojan war for ten years. His queen Clytemnestra took a ... See full summary »


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Title: Elektra (16 Feb 1980)

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Episode credited cast:
Birgit Nilsson ...
Leonie Rysanek ...
Mignon Dunn ...
Donald McIntyre ...
Robert Nagy ...
Batyah Godfrey Ben-David ...
Serving Woman
Shirley Love ...
Serving Woman
Ariel Bybee ...
Serving Woman
Loretta di Franco ...
Serving Woman
Charles Anthony ...
Young Servant
John Cheek ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Elizabeth Anguish ...
Elizabeth Coss ...
Talmage Harper ...
Old Servant
Metropolitan Opera Chorus ...


Electra, like her brother Orestes and younger sister Chrysothemis, is a child of the Mycenaean king Agamemnon, who went off to the Trojan war for ten years. His queen Clytemnestra took a lover, Aegisthus; when the king returned they murdered him and forced Orestes into exile. The guilty pair now rule, and the daughters have become young women. Chrysothemis is frightened and self-effacing, Electra desiring revenge for her father. Chrysothemis warns her that their mother and Aegisthus plan to imprison her. Then Chrysothemis flees as Clytemnestra staggers in, nearly insane with guilt over the murder of her husband. Electra tells her that she and Aegisthus will be hounded through the palace halls by Orestes with the sacred axe. Clytemnestra is horrified until news comes that Orestes is dead. Crazed with disappointment, Electra tries to persuade Chrysothemis they must kill their mother, but Chrysothemis runs away in terror. Electra hunts for the buried axe that must be used fo! Written by Fiona Kelleghan <

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16 February 1980 (USA)  »

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User Reviews

Overwhelmingly brilliant
9 October 2011 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Elektra is as I've said before not my favourite of Strauss' operas, but it is perhaps his most powerful and evocative. Of all the productions I've seen of Elektra, I have been blown away by them all, but this one was my favourite. It moved me, gave me chills and it is incredibly evocative and powerful.

The costumes and sets, while traditional with the costumes fitting for each character and the sets with its cavern/dungeon-like look, add to the evocative and dark atmosphere, the camera angles are sweeping and the picture quality is very good. Elektra is so magnificent musically, with the music to Klyntemnestra's murder always have a blood-curdling effect.

It is beautifully performed by the orchestra, and James Levine conducts superbly, you can tell by the passion of his conducting and also his mannerisms that he is always feeling the music in his bones.

Elektra(1980) is blessed with wonderful performances. Perhaps this is not Birgit Nilsson at her best, some of her pitch is questionable, but I cannot question the power of her voice and the dramatic intensity she brings to the role. She quite simply IS Elektra. Leonie Rysanek was a great Elektra herself, here she plays Chrystothemis, and is every bit as commanding, and Donald McIntyre is a fine Orest. While I am a Brigitte Fassbaender fan myself when it comes to Klytemnestra, Mignon Dunn is simply wonderful and really quite blood-curdling.

All in all, an overwhelmingly brilliant performance of a very difficult(Elektra is one of the most demanding soprano roles ever) but hugely compelling opera. 10/10 Bethany Cox

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