Tuesday, August 8, 2017

SFO Announces a New Klytemnestra to Confront Elektra

As was announced at the beginning of this year, the second opera in the 2017–18 repertory season of the San Francisco Opera (SFO) will be Richard Strauss’ “Elektra.” Hugo von Hofmannsthal provided Strauss with a libretto for this one-act opera based on Sophocles’ play of the same name. Late yesterday afternoon it was announced that mezzo Stephanie Blythe had withdrawn from the role  of Klytemnestra for personal reasons. She will be replaced by mezzo Michaela Martens, who will be singing the role for the first time:

Michaela Martens (photograph by Tess Steinkolk, courtesy of SFO)

This will be a new staging of the opera, which SFO coproduced in conjunction with the National Theatre in Prague and the Badisches Staatstheater in Karlsruhe. The production was originally directed by Keith Warner, and the SFO performances will be directed by Anja Kühnhold. This will be the first time that SFO has presented one of Warner’s stagings, as well as Kühnhold’s first visit to the War Memorial Opera House. Hungarian conductor Henrik Nánási will also be making his SFO debut.

The title role will still be sung by soprano Christine Goerke, last seen with SFO in 2006, when she sang the role of Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus by “the other Strauss,” Johann. Canadian soprano Adrianne Pieczonka will sing the role of Elektra’s sister Chrysothemis. Tenor Robert Brubaker will perform Aegisth, who assisted Klytemnestra in the murder of her husband (and Elektra’s father) Agamemnon. Finally, American bass-baritone Alfred Walker will make his SFO debut in the role of Orest, Elektra’s brother, who assists her in avenging her father death.

This production will be given six performances. These will take place at 7:30 p.m. on September 9, 13, 19, 22, and 27 and at 2 p.m. on September 17. The libretto will be sung in German with English supertitles. The approximate running time will be one hour and 45 minutes.

All performances will take place at the War Memorial Opera House at 301 Van Ness Avenue, on the northwest corner of Grove Street. Single tickets are priced from $26 to $398. Tickets may be purchased online through an event page on the SFO Web site. Tickets may also be purchased at the Box Office in the outer lobby of the Opera House. The Box Office may also be reached by telephoning 415-864-3330. Standing room tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. on the day of each performance. They are sold for $10, cash only.

This opera will also be given the first Insight Panel of the new season. This provides members of both the cast and the creative team to share their thoughts on preparing this production. Participants have not yet been announced. Time is left at the end of the discussion for a Q&A with the audience. The entire event is one hour, and it will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 7. The venue will be the Dianne and Tad Taube Atrium Theatre, located on the top floor of the Veterans Building at 401 Van Ness Avenue, on the southwest corner of McAllister Street. Admission is free for SFO members, subscribers, and students with valid identification. The charge for all others is $5. Pre-registration (including for those who do not have to pay) can be arranged through an Eventbrite event page.

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