The Metropolitan Opera HD Live (2006–…): Season 10, Episode 10 - Strauss's Elektra - full transcript

Where is Elektra?

It's the hour she wails for her father,
making the walls echo.

Did you see how Elektra looked at us?

Poisonous, like a wild cat!

She lies there, moaning...

...whenever the sun's low.

We got too close to her.

She hates to be looked at!

She hissed at us like a cat!
"Go, carrion flies!" she cried.

"Don't feed on my wounds!"
Then she tried to hit us.

"Don't delight in my pain.
Don't hunger for my torment!"

"Go on, crawl away!"

"Eat of fat and sweets."

"Go to bed with your men!" she cried.

I answered,
"When you're hungry, you'll eat, too!"

She gave us a terrible look and screamed at us:

"I'm feeding a vulture in my body!"

I said, "That's why
you're always crouching..."

"...and digging among the
reeking carrion for a corpse."

And she?

She wailed, went off alone.

How can the queen let her
roam about like a demon?

Her own child!

I'd lock her up!

Aren't they cruel enough,
making her eat with the dogs?

Have you seen how the king strikes her?

I want to throw myself
at her feet and kiss them.

Isn't she of royal blood?
Why must she suffer such insults?

I want to anoint her feet
and dry them with my hair.

Get inside!

No one is more majestic.

She lies outside the door,
yet no one can meet her gaze!

None of you is worthy to breathe
the air she breathes.

I'd gladly see you all hanging
by the neck in a dungeon...

...for what you have done to Elektra!

What we've done?

When they made her eat with us,
she threw away her bowl...

...spat at us, and called us dogs!

She said no dog should be
made to live as we do...

...forever washing the blood
of murder from the stones.

"The shame must be swept away
day and night," she said.

"Our bodies reek of the
filth that surrounds us!"

When she sees us with
our children, she cries out:

"All born in this blood-soaked
place are cursed!"

"The children are born
and bred here like dogs!"

Didn't she say that?


They're beating me!


I am all alone.

My father is gone,
driven into his cold tomb.


Where are you, Father?

Haven't you the strength
to drag yourself before me?

It is the hour, our hour...

...the hour when they murdered you.

Your wife, and the one
she sleeps with in your royal bed.

They killed you in your bath.

The blood ran down over your eyes,
into the steaming water.

Then the coward took
you by the shoulders...

...and dragged you headfirst from the hall.

Your eyes, open and staring,
looked back into the house.

You'll return, just like that,
putting one foot before the other...

...and you'll stand there,
your eyes open wide...

...around your head a band of purple,
stained with blood!



Let me see you,
do not leave me alone today!

Let me see your shadow
on the wall as I once did.

Show yourself to your child.

Your day will come!

Just as fiery light pours
down from the stars...

...blood of a hundred throats
will pour down on your grave!

It will flow from the murderers
as if spilled from pitchers!

In a torrent of blood,
the life will flow from their bodies!

We will slaughter the horses
in the stable for you.

They'll shriek, sensing
they're about to die.

We'll kill the hunting dogs
that once licked your feet...

...and their blood will
flow in tribute to you.

And then your son, Orestes,
and your two daughters...

...will gather amidst the steam
that rises from the blood.

And as the blood cools in the setting sun,
they will dance... around your grave!

I'll lift my knees high
as I dance over the corpses!

And those who see me...

...even those who see only
my dancing shadow, will say:

"A great feast is being given
the king by his children!"

"Fortunate is he who has such children..."

"...children who dance
like kings, in triumph!"



That face!

Is my face so hateful to you?

What do you want?
Pour out your heart, and leave me!

Why do you lift your hands?

That's how Father lifted his hands
before the axe fell and cleaved his flesh!

What do you want?

Daughter of my mother...

...daughter of Clytemnestra!

They're planning something terrible.

The two women?

My mother and that other one, the coward?

Aegisthus, the assassin,
the hero of the bedroom!

What are they plotting?

To lock you in a tower
where you'll see neither sun nor moon.

They'll do it, I know they will.
I heard it.

Where did you hear it?

At the door, Elektra.

Open no doors in this house!

Strangled breath,
and the death rattle of the slain...

...that is all that exists here.

Let no doors be opened!
Don't prowl about, stay near!

Wish death to her and him!

I cannot sit staring into
the darkness, like you.

I have a fire in my breast
that makes me roam the palace.

I can't stay in one place.
I wander from room to room.

Upstairs and down, something calls to me...

...but when I arrive,
all I find is an empty room.

I'm frightened...I tremble day and night.

Something is strangling me.
I can't even weep!

Everything has turned to stone!
Sister, have mercy!

On whom?

You keep me chained here!

If it weren't for you, they'd let us go.

If it weren't for your hatred,
your terrifying rage...

...they'd free us from this prison.

Sister, I must escape!

I will not stay here until I die!

I want to live!

I want children, before my body withers.

Let it be a peasant whose
children I bear....

I'll warm them with my body
as the storm shakes our hut.

Do you hear me?
Speak to me, sister!

Poor creature!

Have pity on yourself, on me!

What do you gain from this torment?

Our father is dead...
our brother will never return.

Day and night we perch here
like caged birds, waiting.

And no one comes.

No brother.

No messenger from our brother.

No message of any kind.


Each passing day carves its marks
deeper into our faces.

The sun rises and sets.

And women, once slender,
are now heavy with children...

...filling their jars at the well.

Delivered of their burden,
they return to the well...

...but they are the ones
from whom the sweet drink flows!

They nurture the life clinging
to them and the children grow.

I am a woman, and I want a woman's destiny!

Better to die than to live without living!

What are you wailing about?
Go! Your place is in there!

I hear something.
Are they preparing your wedding?

I hear running. A woman's in labor–
or being murdered!

If they lack enough corpses to sleep on,
they must murder!

Hide yourself!
She must not see you today!

There is death in her eyes.
She dreamed last night.

Hide! They're coming closer!

She dreamed!

What did she dream?
I only heard it from a servant.

They say she dreamed of Orestes...

...and that she cried out
as if she were being strangled!

They're coming.
She's sent them ahead with torches.

They're coming.
She's sent them ahead with torches.

They're bringing animals for sacrifice.

When she's scared, she's terrible.
Stay away from her!

Now I want to speak to my mother
more than ever!

I won't listen!

Look at her!
She's waiting for me!

She thrusts her head, she hisses at me!

Why do I let that creature
roam freely about the house?

Her gaze is deadly.

O gods, why do you punish me?

Why do you ravage me so?

Why must my powers be crippled within me?

Why am I like a barren field
where only nettles grow?

Why haven't I the strength to uproot them?

Why is it so with me, immortal gods?


Aren't you a goddess yourself!

Did you hear her?
What did she say?

She said you're a goddess.

She's being malicious.

It sounds so familiar,
like something long forgotten.

She knows me...

...yet I never know what she's thinking.

You're no longer yourself,
with those reptiles around you.

What they hiss in your ear
tears your brain in two.

That's why you always go about in a dream.

I want to speak with her. Leave me!

She isn't hostile today.
Today she speaks like a healer.

She doesn't speak the truth.

Every word is a lie!

I won't listen to you!

Nothing issues from you
but the breath of Aegisthus!

When I wake you in the night,
each one tells a different tale.

You shriek that my eyes are swollen,
my liver afflicted.

You whimper in my other ear
that you've seen demons...

...with long, pointed beaks,
who suck the blood from me.

You even show me the scars
they leave on my flesh!

Don't I heed you, and
offer endless sacrifices?

You drive me mad
with your conflicting advice.

I don't want to hear
what is true and what is a lie.

The truth cannot be known by mortals.

If she tells me what
I wish to hear, I shall listen.

When I'm told pleasing things,
even by my daughter...

...I throw off whatever shields me.

I let the gentle breeze caress me... the sick,
who sit by the water in the evening...

...exposing their running
sores to the cool air.

They want only to ease their suffering.

Leave me alone with her!

I have no peaceful nights.

Do you know a cure for dreams?

Do you dream, Mother?

Whoever grows older, dreams.

But dreams can be banished.

There are rituals.
There is a proper ritual for everything.

If you wanted to, you could help me.

I, Mother?

Yes, you!

You're clever and strong of mind.

You could help me.

One word from you....

What would a mere breath cost you?

As I lie staring in the night,
something steals upon me.

It isn't a isn't a pain.
It does not oppress me.

It does not choke me.
It is a nothingness.

It isn't even a nightmare...

...and yet it is so horrible,
I want to hang myself.

Each limb cries out for death,
though I'm not even sick.

Look at me! Do I look sick?

Can one rot away like
carrion, and still live?

Can one waste away, and not even be sick?

Decaying while fully alive,
like a cloak devoured by moths!

And then I sleep, and dream.

I dream that the marrow
in my bones is melting...

...only to awaken and find
barely a moment has passed.

It isn't the dawn that peers in
from under the curtains.

The torches, quivering as if alive,
are watching me sleep.

These dreams must end!

Whoever sends them, these dreams
will end with the right sacrifice!

If I must slaughter everything
that crawls and flies...

...and sleep and wake
amid the steam of blood...

...I will do it, to be free of dreams!

When the right sacrifice
falls to the axe...

...your dreams will end!

Which sacred animal must be used?

It isn't sacred.

Is it tied up in there?

No, it runs free.

What are the rituals?

Magnificent rituals,
to be followed precisely.

Can't you guess?

No, that is why I ask.

Tell me the name.

A woman!

One of my servants? A virgin?

A woman who has been with a man?

Yes, that's it!

How is it done?
When, and where?

Anywhere, at any hour of the day or night.

Tell me the ritual!

This time you don't go
hunting with net and axe.

Who does, then?

–A man.

–I said a man!

Someone here, or a stranger?

Yes, a stranger...but of this house.

Don't speak in riddles.
Elektra, listen to me...

...I'm happy you're in a good mood today.

Mother, why don't you let
my brother come home?

You must not speak of him!

Are you afraid of him?

–Who says that?
–You're afraid!

Why fear a half-wit?

They say he sleeps with dogs.
He can't tell men from beasts.

He was in perfect health.

They treated him badly
and put him with the animals.

I sent gold so he would be cared for
like a king's son.

Liar! You sent gold so
they would murder him!

–Who told you this?
–Your eyes tell me. He's alive!

You think of nothing but
him, day and night.

You're sick with fear,
for you know he will return!

What do I care?
I am mistress of this palace.

I have enough servants to keep watch.

I can put armed guards
before my door if I wish.

Sooner or later you'll tell
me what I need to know!

You've already revealed
that you have the answer.

If you keep silent in your freedom,
you will end up in chains.

The starving can always
be counted on to speak.

Dreams end. Those who dream
but never act are fools.

I'll find out whose blood must flow,
so I may sleep at last!

Whose blood?

Your own–
once the hunter has caught you!

He comes to you at night,
but doesn't kill you in your sleep.

He wakes you, you flee.

He runs after you.

To the right is the bed,
to the left, the bloodied bath.

The torches cast a net-like
shadow upon you.

Down the stairway,
through hall after hall goes the chase!

And I...

...I who sent him to you–

I stand there...

...and finally watch you die!

Then your dreams will end,
and so will mine!

Whoever still lives...

...can then at last rejoice!

What did the message say?
She looked happy.

I don't understand....

Orestes is dead!

Be quiet!

Orestes is dead!

I went outside, and they all knew!

They all knew...and we did not!

They know nothing.

They all know!

No one can know, because it isn't true!

It isn't true!

It isn't true, I tell you!

Strangers were sent here to tell us.

There were two of them–
one older, one younger.

They had already told everyone.
They all knew!

It isn't true!

No one cares about us!

Dead, Elektra...dead!

Dead...killed among strangers!

Thrown and trampled by his own horses!

You there!
What kind of beggars lie before a door?

Where's the stable master?

–What do you want?
–Saddle a horse, quickly!

A horse, a mule...a cow,
for all I care! But quickly!

–For whom?
–The one ordering you! Hurry!

Hurry! I must ride to our master!

I've news for him, so urgent
I could ride your nag to death!

Now we must do it.

–The two of us must do it.

What, Elektra?


We must do the deed,
because he isn't coming.

What must we do?

You and I must kill the woman, and her husband.

Our mother?

Her, and him–without delay!

Do not speak.
Just think of how to do it.

–You and I. Who else?

The two of us, with our own hands?

Let me decide that.

The axe!

The axe they used.

Unspeakable! You have it?

I kept it for our brother.
Now we must wield it ourselves.

You? You will kill Aegisthus?

First her, then him.
First him, then matter.

–I'm afraid!
–No one guards their door.

If they slept apart, I could do it alone.
But you must help me!

You are strong!

Your purity has made you strong.

Your whole body is strong,
as strong as a colt.

You are young and agile.

You know every passageway, every window.

Let me feel how strong your arms are!

I can feel their strength
when you push me away!

Let me go!

No, I'll hold you!

With my withered arms, I'll hold you!

If you resist, you'll
only tighten the knot.

I'll entwine myself about you
and take root in your flesh...

...while filling your blood with my will.

Let me be!

I won't!

Elektra, listen to me!

You're clever,
help us escape from this house!

Elektra, help us to be free!

From now on, sister,
I will love you as never before.

I'll sit with you in your room as
you wait for your bridegroom.

I'll bathe and anoint you for him.

You'll be like a swan, curling against
my breast, hiding your face.

He'll draw you to his bed,
your body aglow like a torch.

No, sister!
Don't speak of that in this house.

Before you escape this house, and me,
swear you'll do it!

Swear you'll come to the
foot of the stairway tonight.

I cannot!

Then be cursed!

Alone, then!

What do you want, stranger?

Why do you steal about at this hour,
spying on others?

I have work to do that doesn't concern you.
Leave me in peace!

I must wait here.

Do you live in this house?

Are you a servant in this house?

Yes, I serve this house.

You have no business here.

Be glad, and be on your way.

I told you...

...I must wait here until they call me.

The ones in there?
You're lying. The master isn't here.

And she...why would she want to see you?

I and another who is with me
have a message for her.

We were sent to bear witness...

...that her son, Orestes,
was killed before our eyes.

He was trampled by his own horses.

We were the same age.
I was his companion day and night.

Why are you still here?
Why do you linger... herald of misfortune?

Trumpet your news in there,
where they will rejoice!

While your eyes stare,
his eyes see nothing.

While your lips move,
his are stopped with earth.

You are alive, and he,
who was better than you...

...he, whose life was
a thousand times more noble...

...he is dead.

Enough of Orestes.

He loved life too much.

The gods do not tolerate
joy that speaks too loudly.

And so he had to die.

And I...

...I must remain here,
knowing he will never return...

...knowing he languishes there,
in the terrible abyss.

And they live, eating,
drinking, and sleeping in their lair...

...while I am out here,
living as no animal should live!

Who are you?

What is that to you?

You must be kin to Agamemnon and Orestes.

I am Agamemnon's blood,
spilled like a cur's!

–I am Elektra!

You mock me? You deny me my name?

Without father or brother,
I'm made the sport of servants!

Elektra! Is it you I see before me?

They keep you like this?
Do they beat you?

Don't look at me!

What have they made you suffer?

Your eyes are terrifying!
Your cheeks are sunken!

Go inside. I have a sister there
who lives for pleasure!

I don't want to know your
name, or anyone's.

There isn't much time.

Orestes is alive!

Do not betray him!

–Alive! Where is he?
–He is unharmed.

–He must be saved from them.
–By my father's body, that's why I have come!

Who are you?

Who are you?
You're frightening me!

The lowliest of this house
know me, but not my sister?


Orestes, Orestes!

Now all is still.

Let my eyes behold you.

A vision...more sublime than any dream!

Noble, elusive, divine face!

Stay with me!

Do not vanish.

Do not vanish, unless I am to die
and you have come for me.

Then I shall die more
happily than I ever lived!


You must not embrace me!

You mustn't! I'm ashamed.

How can you look at me?

Your sister has become a corpse!

You shudder at the sight.
To think I was a king's daughter!

I believe I was beautiful.

When I looked in the mirror,
I felt an innocent thrill.

At night I felt moonlight...

...bathing my white nakedness
with light, as on a pond.

My flowing hair made
men tremble with desire.

This hair, now matted and befouled....

Do you understand, brother?

I've sacrificed all that I was.

I sacrificed my innocence,
sweeter than all I possessed...

...innocence that lingers round
a woman like a silver mist...

...protecting her from evil.

Do you understand, my brother?

Why do you look away?

Speak to me!

Your hands are trembling!

Let them. I know what they must do.

You'll do it? Alone?

The gods gave me this task,
and they will help me.

He who acts is blessed!

I shall do it at once!

Deeds are like a bed for the soul,
a bed made of balsam...

...balsam for a wounded, burning soul!

I shall do it!

Blessed is he who does this deed!

Blessed are they who longed for him,
and who behold him!

Blessed are they who know him!

Blessed are they who give him the axe!

Blessed are they who light his path!

Blessed are they who open the door for him!

Are you mad? Quiet!
Any sound could betray us!

She's inside, her slaves seek you.

She's alone, Orestes!

I didn't give the axe to him!

They went in, and I didn't
give the axe to him!

There are no gods in the heavens!

Strike again!

What's happened?

–She cried out in her sleep.
–There are men inside!

–All the doors are locked.
–There are murderers in there!

There's one of them now!

It's Elektra!

Why don't you speak, Elektra?

–I will call for the men!
–Open the door! Elektra!

Get back!

It's Aegisthus!
Back to our rooms, he's at the gate!

If something's happened and
he finds us here, he'll kill us!

Get back!

A torch! Is there no one here?

Where are you, lazy dogs?
Haven't you any respect?

Who is that woman?
Haven't I forbidden strangers here?

So it's you!
Who told you to meet me?

May I light the way for you?

This news affects you most of all.

Where are the men
who brought the news of Orestes?

Inside, where they found a willing hostess.

They're enjoying themselves with her now.

Do they really say he's dead?

Do they say it so that no one can doubt it?

My lord, they say it not
merely with words...

...but they also give proof,
so that no one can doubt it!

What is that in your voice?
What are you up to?

Why do you move about like
that with the light?

I finally realized that I must serve
those stronger than I.

May I light the way for you?

As far as the door.
Why are you dancing?

Be careful where you walk!

Why is there no light?

Who are those men there?

They await you, my lord!

And I, who so often disturbed you
with my hated presence...

...I have finally learned....

I have finally learned when
the right moment has come to withdraw.

Help me


Does no one hear me?

Agamemnon hears you!

Elektra! Sister!
Come with us!

Our brother is here.
It is Orestes who did it!

Orestes! Orestes!

He's here, in the hall!

All are welcoming him, and are at his feet!

Those who hated Aegisthus are rejoicing!

Corpses lie everywhere.

Those who live are wounded and bloodied.

Yet they rejoice!

Everyone rejoices!

A thousand torches have been lighted!

Do you hear them calling his name?

How could I not hear?

How could I not hear the music?

It comes from within me!

The thousands
whose footsteps shake the earth...

...they all await me.

I know they await me,
for I must lead the dance.

I know they await me,
for I must lead the dance.

But I cannot.

The ocean has grown so vast...

...that it overwhelms me,
and I cannot raise myself!

Do you hear them?
They're calling his name!

We are godlike, we who do deeds!

The gods can crush us,
but we can also know their glory!

I was a corpse among the living... I am the flame of life itself!

My face glows like the face of the moon!

Who beholds me must die...

...or be lost in rapture!

Did anyone ever love us?

Do you see my face
and the light shining from it?

Now our brother is here,
and love flows like oil and myrrh!

Love is everything!
Who can live without love?

Love destroys...but no one dies
until they have known it.

Elektra, I must stand beside my brother!


Be silent, and dance!

Everyone must join me here!

I carry the burden of joy,
and I dance before you!

For those as happy as we,
only one thing is fitting.

Be silent. And dance!