Goerke stars in Lyric's blood-soaked 'Elektra'
In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012, in Chicago, Christine Goerke performs as Elektra, during the first act of a dress rehearsal of the Lyric Opera of Chicago's new production of "Elektra." (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
CHICAGO (AP) — "There will be blood!" insist the ads for Lyric Opera's production of "Elektra," — and indeed there is, cascading down the steps of Agamemnon's palace near the end of Richard Strauss' one-act opera.
Enough blood, in David McVicar's new production that opened the season Saturday night, for soprano Christine Goerke to cap her heroic performance in the title role by smearing it over her hands and face in exultation: Her brother, Orest, has just avenged their father's murder by killing their mother, Klytaemnestra and her lover, Aegisth.
In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012, in Chicago, actors perform during the dress rehearsal of a new Sir David McVicar production of Elektra at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
Goerke is making her Lyric debut in a part that has few equals for difficulty in the dramatic soprano repertory. Elektra is onstage virtually throughout the hour-and-45-minute work, and much of the time Strauss requires her to sing out at full volume over almost impossibly dense orchestration.
She meets the challenge fearlessly. Unlike many Elektras, Goerke has a voice that's warm and rich in vibrato rather than diamond-bright. Her low notes in particular have a lovely, velvety texture. As she rises through the scale, she occasionally wavers slightly in pitch, but her high notes ring out true and confident.
In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012, in Chicago, from left, J'nai Bridges, Victoria Livengood, Cecelia Hall and Tracy Cantin perform as Maids during the first act of a dress rehearsal of the Lyric Opera of Chicago's new production of "Elektra." (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
More than when she first performed the role in Madrid a year ago, Goerke inhabits the different aspects of the character persuasively: part wounded creature, slapping her own head repeatedly in despair; part conniving schemer, cozying up to her mother only to unleash her scorn and fury; part loving sister, tenderly cradling her long-lost brother's head in her lap.