April 03, 2020

Elektra: “Ob ich nicht höre”

“Ob ich nicht höre” (How can I not hear?) is a soprano duet from Richard Strauss's opera Elektra.

In Elektra, the Trojan War has begun after Helen, sister-in-law of Mycenae's King Agamemnon, eloped with Paris, Prince of Troy. Agamemnon, commander of the Greek forces, sets off to reclaim Helen, sacrificing his daughter Iphigenia to ensure favorable winds for the journey. His traumatized wife Klytämnestra seeks comfort in the arms of Agamemnon's nephew, Aegisth (himself a child of incest). When Agamemnon returns, Klytämnestra and Aegisth murder him and usurp his throne, to the horror and despair of Elektra, daughter of Klytämnestra and Agamemnon. Elektra is able to ensure that her brother Orest is sent away to safety before his mother and her lover could harm him.

Here, Elektra's consuming desire to avenge her father Agamemnon's murder has been fulfilled: the murderers — Elektra's mother Klytämnestra and Klytämestra's lover, Aegisth — have been killed by Elektra's brother, Orest. Elektra (Nina Stemme) exults with her sister, Chrysothemis (Elza van den Heever), but after a few moments of dancing in triumph, she falls dead, leaving Chrysothemis despairingly calling for Orest.

“Ob ich nicht höre”

Song title: "Ob ich nicht höre" ("How can I not hear?")

Opera: Elektra

Composer: Richard Strauss

Year Written: 1909

Language: German

Performance dates: February 2 – 22, 2019

Artists: Nina Stemma (Elektra), Elza van den Heever (Chrysothemis), and the Lyric Opera Orchestra under Maestro Donald Runnicles

Special thanks to the Chicago Federation of Musicians local 10-208 and artists of the American Guild of Musical Artists.

Photo: Cory Weaver