The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (BSO) are set to perform a concert staging of Richard Strauss’s modernist opera Elektra (1909) at The Lighthouse in Poole, Dorset, and Birmingham’s Symphony Hall.

Based on the Greek myth of the same name, this minimalist opera is only around two hours in length with just four characters. It focuses tightly on the eponymous heroine, developing her character by expressing her emotions and psychology as she meets with the other characters, mostly one at a time.

The opera was first performed in Dresden in January 1909; it garnered critical condemnation for its brutal presentation of violence and horror. However, today it is one of the most frequently performed operas based on classical Greek mythology. The German-language libretto was by Austrian writer Hugo von Hofmannsthal.

This concert staging is directed by German stage director Geertje Boeden, with the BSO’s chief conductor, Ukrainian Kirill Karabits leading the orchestra. The title role is sung by English soprano Catherine Foster, in her hotly anticipated return to the UK stage after a break of 20 years. She is joined on stage by soprano Allison Oakes in her UK operatic debut as Elektra’s sister Chrysothemi, bass Andreas Bauer Kanabas as their brother Orest, and soprano Susan Bullock, making her UK debut as Klytämnestra, the trio’s mother.

Catherine Foster commented: “I’m absolutely thrilled to have been invited by Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra to sing, not only a favourite role of mine, but combining that with the city and stunning Symphony Hall where it all began for me as a BMus student at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire makes this something very special.”

Celebrating his 10th year as chief conductor of the BSO, Kirill Karabits is also Generalmusikdirektor of the Deutsches Nationaltheater Weimar, where Richard Strauss held the role of second Kapellmeister from 1889 to 1894.

“I’m delighted to be part of this wonderful project with such a great cast,” Karabits said. “In order to perform this complex and visceral score you need an orchestra at the top of its game, and I have no doubt that the BSO will be able to deliver. Elektra will surely be a highlight of the 2019-20 season!”

Dougie Scarfe, the BSO’s chief executive, added: “Catherine Foster has achieved phenomenal success across Europe, including for the last six years as Brünnhilde in the Ring Cycle at Bayreuth, and we’re thrilled to have her as our Elektra. The casting of Catherine Foster, Allison Oakes and Susan Bullock, three outstanding and experienced dramatic sopranos who will each be singing their particular roles in the UK for the first time, demonstrates the high ambition of Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra to perform Elektra at the very highest level.”

The BSO’s performances of Elektra take place on Wednesday 18 March 2020 in Poole and Saturday 21 March 2020 in Birmingham. Tickets are on sale now.



Soprano Catherine Foster leads the cast in the title role in the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s production of Elektra (Uwe Arens).