Marilyn Zschau as Elektra in the Richard Strauss opera, now playing at the Seattle Opera House.
by John Soltys
Richard Strauss's Elektra represents opera at its most passionate and intense level. As a single-act performance of two hours, Elektra captures the audience and holds it until long after the final curtain has fallen and the applause has died away.
The opera tells the story of Elektra, daughter of King Agamemnon, and her torment after the brutal and cowardly slaying of her father.
Marilyn Zschau gives a spectacular performance as Elektra, never once leaving the stage throughout the show.
Zschau's portrayal of a distraught daughter is matched only by the genius of the set designer, Wolfram Skalicki, who provided a dungeon so severe and terrifying, it sent shivers down the audience's collective back as the curtain dropped away while the opening notes of Strauss's score resounded throughout the opera house.
It's in this chamber of torture that Elektra sets forth on her plan to avenge her late father upon his Queen and her consort. The climax of the work comes as the murderers become the murdered admist the panic of the castle as screams are heard even in the servants' quarters.
Elektra is as powerful as any opera presented by Seattle Opera so far this season and a must-see for anyone interested in opera.