Richard Strauss’s thrilling and audacious adaptation of the Greek tragedy Elektra is to receive a concert staging this March under the baton of BSO Chief Conductor, Kirill Karabits. Elektra herself brought to life by the British operatic soprano, Catherine Foster, making a much anticipated return to the UK stage.

The polemic opera, inspired by Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s play Elektra (1903-04), is a tale of the very extremes of dysfunctional family dynamics. Based on a myth that is approximately 3,000 years old, Strauss recounts the tale of Elektra and the vengenance that she and her brother (Orest) take on their mother (Klytämnestra) and stepfather (Aegisth) for the murder of their father (Agamemnon) despite her sister’s (Chrysothemis) warning.

Catherine Foster (c) Uwe Arens

Marrying depictions of extreme violence with moments of exquisite tenderness, the opera is scored for 16 soloists, chorus and large symphony orchestra. The performance is to include some of the most celebrated names in opera, including Susan Bullock as Klytämnestra, Allison Oakes —making her UK operatic debut—as Chrysothemis, and German bass Andreas Bauer Kanabas as Orest.

Read a Gramophone blog with Kirill Karabits about why Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra is bringing Strauss’ Elektra out of the opera house.

Read Nottingham Post article to learn about Catherine Foster’s incredible journey from nursing to international opera star. 

Listen to the Thoroughly Good podcast with Jon Jacob to hear soprano Susan Bullock and conductor Kirill Karabits discuss the work.

A bold exploration of the extremes of human emotion; raw suffering, anguish, hatred, violence and passionate love, Elektra is a meditation on the bonds that hold us together and the ultimate power they have to tear us apart.

Elektra will be performed at Lighthouse, Poole (18 Mar) and Symphony Hall, Birmingham (21 Mar). For tickets and further details visit

For a taster have a listen to BSO Associate Dr Jon James below…



The BSO would like to credit Celia Douglas, who completed a work experience placement with us and provided the basis for this blog post.