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The Bloodiest Opera Ever? Maybe Strauss' 'Elektra'

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2011-10-28It's a story that would seem excessive for even the most lurid of "real life" dramas, or blood-soaked slasher movies. But it's always been right at home in the opera house  Richard Strauss' intense, one-act opera, Elektra.

The tale dates back to classic Greek tragedies, and it revolves around what may be the most dysfunctional family in all of literature. The head of this disturbing household is King Agamemnon, who gets the emotional ruckus started by sacrificing one of his daughters, Iphigeneia.

Iphigeneia's fate upsets her mother, Klytaemnestra, who takes up with another guy while Agamemnon is off at war. When the King finally returns, she gives him just enough time to climb into a hot bath and then kills him with an axe.

That murder doesn't sit well with their other daughter, Elektra, and she vows to get even with her mother for Agamemnon's death. That task falls to her long lost brother, Orestes, who returns home to find Elektra insane, and proceeds to kill both Klytaemnestra and her lover, Aegisthus.