Sam @CUSP Conference 2015

Friday, October 24, 2014

Michigan Opera Theatre’s Elektra is a bloody good time

Michigan Opera Theatre’s fall 2014 season opened with Richards Strauss’ German-language opera, “Elektra.” The horror-filled one-act performance was disturbingly wonderful to watch with the award-winning vocals of soprano Christine Goerke.
Photo by John Grigaitis

Elektra is grieving the loss of her father who was murdered by her lusty mother and her lover. She seeks revenge and begs her sister, Chrysothemis, to help her. This role is played by soprano Jennifer Check whose runs and vibratos are lovely and sweet and a great contrast to Goerke’s Elektra and all her glorious grit.  

Goerke leaves her soul on stage giving a vocal and physical performance that could exhaust a diva of a much lesser grade. As beautiful as her voice is, her endurance is even more admirable and she has the acting chops to handle such a challenging role. Even before she opens her mouth, you feel her pain from the slant of her brow to the thrust of her jaw. She is truly wonderful to watch.

The role of the sisters’ mother, Klytaemnestra, is played by mezzo-soprano Jill Grove who makes it very easy to dislike her character with her strong performance as the villain in “Elektra.” She plays bad so good. Grove, like Goerke, delivers on the acting in addition to the singing. You don’t have to read the subtitles to know her role in the story. Her body, her voice and everything in between give you the entire context to understand.  

Photo by John Grigaitis

The cast also includes German Bass-baritone Thomas Gazheli as Orest and Canadian tenor, Richard Margison as Aegisth.

“Elektra” is one of those operas that resonates with every age group from 18 to 80 because of its youthful energy but still maintains the structure and dynamic of a classic libretto. The way MOT has opened up the context so that it is accessible to every audience is to be admired. The acting by the performers in this production make it easily understood whether you have been attending the opera your entire life or are viewing it for the first time. Not to mention, the bloody setting – including a set that spews blood – is perfect for this time of year with Halloween just around the corner.

MOT is only presenting four performances of this emotionally charged opera – the two closing shows are this weekend. As horrific as this murderous tale is, it would be more horrifying for Detroit audiences to miss this show.

The opera is directed by Nicholas Muni with Maestro Steven Mercurio at the podium.

“Elektra” is playing this Saturday, October 25 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, October 26 at 2:30 p.m. at the Detroit Opera House located at 1526 Broadway in downtown Detroit. Tickets are $25 to $128. Visit www.MichiganOpera.org or call 313.237.SING for more information.

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