In the courtyard of Agamemnon’s palace, five maids discuss the erratic behavior of Elektra, who has lost her rightful place in the royal household and been condemned to a menial existence. One of the maids unleashes the hostility of her companions by declaring her loyalty to Elektra who, despite her strange ways, is still a royal princess and daughter of the late king. The overseer, who shares in the censure of Elektra, sends the maids inside, where they continue to abuse their companion.
Elektra enters the courtyard, brooding on the murder of her father and upon his unpunished assassins. She swears that she and her siblings, Orest and Chrysothemis, will dance at Agamemnon’s tomb when their vengeance will have set his soul at peace. Chrysothemis comes to warn Elektra that Klytämnestra and Aegisth are plotting to imprison her. She begs Elektra to flee with her from the tortured existence they must endure in the palace. Chrysothemis longs for a happier life – above all, to bear children. She advises her sister to avoid Klytämnestra, who the night before had been plagued by terrifying dreams. Elektra replies that she must speak to Klytämnestra, and Chrysothemis leaves as their mother approaches.