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Electra or Elektra (Ancient Greek: Ἠλέκτρα, meaning "amber") is the name of one of the most famous characters from Greek mythology.

The mythological character Electra

She was the daughter of King Agamemnon and Queen Clytemnestra, and a princess of Argos. She and her brother Orestes sought revenge for the murder of their father by their mother Clytemnestra and stepfather Aegisthus.

The original play texts called Electra or Elektra

She is the main character in two ancient Greek tragedies, Electra by Sophocles and Electra by Euripides, but also appears as a the central figure in plays by Aeschylus, Alfieri, Voltaire, Hofmannsthal, Eugene O'Neill and many others.

Electra by Sophocles

Set in the city of Argos a few years after the Trojan war, it is based around the character of Electra, and the vengeance that she and her brother Orestes take on their mother Clytemnestra and step father Aegisthus for the murder of their father, Agamemnon.

Electra by Euripides

Electra (circa 413 B.C.), by Euripides (485-406 B.C.). The play deals with the same theme as that of the similarly named tragedy by Sophocles.

Electra by Benito Pérez Galdós (1843-1920)

Electra (1900), by Spanish playwright Benito Pérez Galdós (1843-1920). The play discusses the problem of the girl who is being impelled towards a convent life for which she is entirely unsuited.

International translations and adaptations

Electra in a New Electric Light by Francis Talfourd (1859)

A burlesque version of Electra, called Electra in a New Electric Light, was written by Francis Talfourd (1828-1862)[1] and performed for the first time on 25 April 1859 at the Haymarket Theatre, London. Published by T.H. Lacy.

See also the entry on Electra in a New Electric Light

Electra adapted by John Barton and Kenneth Cavander

Electra by Sophocles, adapted by John Barton and Kenneth Cavander. Published in The Greeks : ten Greek plays given as a trilogy, Heinemann, 1981.

Elektra, an opera by Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal

Elektra, a one-act opera by Richard Strauss, to a German-language libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal, which he adapted from his 1903 drama Elektra. It was first performed at the Königliches Opernhaus in Dresden on 25 January 1909.

South African translations and adaptations

Elektra translated by J.P.J. van Rensburg

Translated into Afrikaans as Elektra by J.P.J. van Rensburg (published by Human & Rousseau, 1969).

Performance history of the play in South Africa

1859: Talfourd's burlesque version performed by the Cape Town Dramatic Club in the Harrington Street Theatre, Cape Town, on 31 August, billed as "Magnificent Classical Extravaganza". Also on the programme was Victims by Tom Taylor and a performance of the brass band of the 59th Regiment.

1859: Talfourd's burlesque version repeated ("by special request") by the Cape Town Dramatic Club in the Harrington Street Theatre, Cape Town, on 7 September, along with Nothing Venture, Nothing Win (Coyne) and a performance of the brass band of the 59th Regiment.

1965: The Afrikaans translation Elektra was staged by PACT, directed by the Greek director Costis Michaelides (assisted by Leonora Nel), starring Anna Neethling-Pohl as Klutaimnestra at the Aula, Pretoria and the Civic Theatre, Johannesburg. Other members of the cast were Francois Swart (Orestes), Carel Trichardt (Paidagogos), Marius Weyers (Pulades), Tine Balder (Elektra), Petru Wessels (Chrusothemis), Louis van Niekerk (Aigisthos). Decor and costumes designed by Raimond Schoop.

1966(?): The Afrikaans translation Elektra was staged by the University of Pretoria **

1968: The Afrikaans translation Elektra was presented by Universiteitsteater Stellenbosch in the H.B. Thom Theatre and the Bellville Civic Theatre in June, directed by Tine Balder, starring Frikkie Engels, Fred Nel, Herman Pretorius, Esther Brandt, Annelize van der Ryst, Deon Joubert and others.

1997: Electra by Sophocles, as adapted by Barton and Cavander, directed by Gaerin Hauptfleisch for the University of Stellenbosch Drama Department, in September in the Little Libertas Theatre. The cast: Lorraine Burger, Tania Strauss, Nina Swart, James Lapping, Carlien Mostert, Susan Rabe, Keith Bain.

Performance history of the Strauss opera in South Africa

1999: Presented by Cape Town Opera (27 November)


Wayne Muller. 2018. A reception history of opera in Cape Town: Tracing the development of a distinctly South African operatic aesthetic (1985–2015). Unpublished PhD thesis.


Wikipedia [2]

World Drama by Allardyce Nicoll, 1949.


Facsimile version of the 1859 Talfourd text, Hathi Trust Digital Library[3]

Laura Monros-Gaspar (ed). 2015. Victorian Classical Burlesques: A Critical Anthology. Bloomsbury Publishing[4]

PACT theatre programme, 1965.

UTS theatre programme, 1968.

Petru & Carel Trichardt theatre programme collection.

Go to ESAT Bibliography

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