The Libation Bearers
Composer: Andrew Earle Simpson
Librettist: Sarah Brown Ferrario
Other Artistic Personnel: Samuel Bill, Conductor; Nick Ferrario, Film Director
Original Cast: Principal roles: Tom Wyvill as Orestes (tenor, 2 arias); Lauren McHorney/Lauren Valle as Elektra (soprano, 1 aria); Tracy Cowart/ Kristin Green as Nurse (mezzo-soprano, 1 aria); Tracy Hall/Veronica Jaeger as Klytemnestra (dramatic soprano, 2 scenas) ; Joseph Murray/Sean Murray as Aegisthus (tenor, 1 small scena) Comprimario roles: Jeffrey Petryk as Pylades (baritone), Slave (bass-baritone). Chorus Leader (mezzo-soprano); SSAA Chorus
Work Web Site:
Premiere Date: Not available.
Producing Company: The Catholic University of America Opera Theater
Description: Orestes, son of Agamemnon and Klytemnestra, returns from exile to Argos, where, conspiring with his sister Elektra, he kills Klytemnestra to avenge Agamemnon's earlier murder at her hands. The action is based faithfully on Aeschylus' ancient Greek tragedy, "The Libation Bearers" (the second play of the "Oresteia" trilogy). Agamemnon, the King of Argos and the victorious leader of the Greek armies in the Trojan War, was murdered by his wife Klytemnestra upon his return to Argos. Klytemnestra, now Queen of Argos, rules with Aegisthus, her lover and co-conspirator in Agamemnon's murder. Orestes' sister Elektra, daughter of Agamemnon and Klytemnestra, has been relegated to the status of a slave. The opera begins at the grave of Agamemnon. Orestes and his friend Pylades approach the tomb; upon hearing a procession of women coming, they hide. A Chorus of household slaves (captured Trojan women) approach the tomb. They have been sent by Klytemnestra to pour libations to appease the spirit of Agamemnon. Elektra, who is with the slave women, joins them in their laments for Agamemnon's fate as well as their own. Orestes recognizes his sister Elektra among the women, and reveals his identity to her. Elektra joyfully welcomes her brother Orestes; together with the Chorus, the siblings plot the murders of Klytemnestra and Aegisthus and the restoration of Orestes to his rightful place on the throne of Argos. They attempt to raise the spirit of Agamemnon to bless their enterprise, but Agamemnon's ghost does not appear. The plot is now put in motion. Orestes and Pylades, disguised as travellers from a distant city, appear at the palace seeking hospitality for the night. Klytemnestra welcomes the guests. They announce false news of Orestes' death, and Klytemnestra summons Aegisthus to hear this news. Orestes and Pylades kill Aegisthus, and then confront Klytemnestra. Klytemnestra attempts to sway Orestes from his purpose; he wavers, but Pylades encourages him. Orestes and Pylades drag Klytemnestra offstage to her death. Orestes appears, tortured, over the bodies of Klytemnestra and Aegisthus. He announces that he will travel to Delphi to be purified of this murder by Apollo. Already, however, he is growing mad: he sees the Furies, terrible goddesses who punish those who kill their blood kin, coming for him. Orestes, now insane, leaves for Delphi with the Furies in pursuit.
Length: 01:15
Total Acts: 1
Musical Style: Tonal/modal with chromatic inflections; number-opera structure, with arias for three principal roles; performable by colleges/universities
Contact: Andrew Earle Simpson
E-mail Address:
Phone: 202-319-5564 or 301-330-5408
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