Star-Bulletin Features

Thursday, February 11, 1999

Eric Y. Yanagi
Maria Russo (front), is Chrysothemis, and Janis Martin
is Elektra in Hawaii Opera Theatre's production of "Elektra."

HOT dishes out
soap a ’90s crowd will

Elektra: Presented by Hawaii Opera Theatre, Blaisdell Concert Hall, at 8 p.m. tomorrow, 4 p.m. Sunday and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Tickets $23-$77. Call 596-7858.

By Cynthia Oi


While her husband is away at war, a woman starts fooling around with his most hated enemy. When hubby returns home with his own lover in tow, the wife murders him, claiming he sacrificed one of their three daughters to win the war. She treats her other daughters as slaves and her son disappears from the dysfunctional family.

Sound like a soap or a TV mini series? It isn't. It's Greek myth converted to opera by Richard Strauss.

"Elektra" is Hawaii Opera Theatre's second offering of its season, with female obsession, murder, betrayal and revenge all wrapped up in music. The opera caused a furor when it was first performed in 1909 because of the subject matter and the musical expression, according to "100 Great Operas and Their Stories."

The story focuses on Elektra, whose hatred of her mother, Klytemnestra, moves her to the edge of insanity. Her sister, fearful and weak, runs away after their mother tells them their brother is dead. Vengeance deals death to Klytemnestra and her lover with the drama building through emotional surprises and wicked plots.

The music of "Elektra" is not the melodic sounds of Strauss' comedic opera, "Der Rosenkavalier." Instead, it's disturbing, "more like the score of a movie that follows the tension of the action," said HOT's Lili Meagher. "You sit there, clenching your fist."

An 80-piece orchestra will accompany the performers, a larger number than usual, Meagher said.

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