Elektra, Frankfurt Opera
By Shirley Apthorp
Published: October 12 2004 03:00 | Last updated: October 12 2004 03:00
"Everywhere, in all the courts, there are dead bodies, all who are alive are smeared with blood, yet all are smiling," sings Chrysothemis. Former prisoners pile oozing body-bags along the floor. Two charred and bloodied corpses, minus a limb or two, are hoisted on meat-hooks.
Klytämnestra and Aegisth don't look well. Atrocities are nothing new. For an explanation of the human penchant for slaughter and tyranny, you could do worse than to look to Sophocles.
Hofmannsthal and Strauss did, creating an Elektra both rooted in antiquity and very much of its time. For his new Frankfurt production, director Falk Richter has politicised the piece to within an inch of its life. The action plays between the stark steel walls of a giant prison, run by sadistic guards.
The orange-clad inmates have sacks over their heads. Red neon text tracks across the top of the stage, more CNN news ticker than surtitles. The house of Atreus has relocated to Guantanamo Bay. Or Abu Graib. "We got him!" say the titles, just as Klytämnestra's confidante comes with the whispered news of Orest's purported death. The mother chortles in obscene delight.
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