Meet the Artists
Elektra is one of the most intense and challenging roles in the entire repertoire, and it takes an especially powerful singer to bring her epic quest for vengeance to life. Therefore, we’re extremely lucky to have not one, but two dynamic singers —German soprano Sabine Hogrefe (left) and Pittsburgh native Alexandra Loutsion (right)—both joining us for the first time to take on this iconic role. Recently, they were kind enough to sit down with us to answer a few questions about themselves and share what it’s like to prepare for the most demanding 100 minutes in opera.
MN Opera: Describe Elektra in three words…
Sabine Hogrefe: Obsessed, vengeful, miserable
Alexandra Loutsion: Vulnerable, intelligent, misunderstood
MNOp: What are some of the joys and challenges of performing this role?
AL: Elektra is truly an actor’s character. The sheer emotional scope of what this woman goes through in an hour and 40 minutes is immense. It makes for a wonderful acting challenge to discover the ins and outs of her psyche, particularly considering she is highly intelligent and can turn on a dime.
SH: It is a challenge to have the strength to sustain these feelings from the beginning to the end, all while singing and dancing without the ability to step off the stage. There is no chance to rest during the whole performance, so when it’s over, you feel like you´ve been on stage for five hours like in Götterdämmerung. You’re very surprised to see that only an hour and 40 minutes has passed!
MNOp: What is it about Elektra that makes it such an exciting piece?
AL: This piece is like a live action thriller or horror film happening in real time and set to some of the best music you’ll ever hear. Sometimes the music is so loud and thrilling, the hair on your arm stands on end, and the subject matter is waft with terrifying perversion. A woman is seeking vengeance for her father’s murder that was carried out by her mother and her mother’s lover!
SH: The fantastic music! The music drives the story forward, and expresses the emotions of the characters. Sometimes it sounds like film music.
AL: Also, it is female-driven. We don’t see any significant male characters until the end, which is a rarity for opera.
MNOp: What is the strangest or most surprising thing that has ever happened to you during a performance?
SH: I had an accident during a rehearsal of Tristan und Isolde. It was the first technical rehearsal. The whole stage was black, and there was a gap which shouldn’t have existed at the time and I fell 2.5 meters into the depth. Luckily, I fell on my feet and had “only” some big bruises, but nothing else. After 30 minutes, I went on with the rehearsal!
AL: I was being chased offstage by a baritone and he accidentally stepped on the train of my gown. I was near the door, but couldn’t make it without falling, so I hurled myself into the air through the curtain and managed to faceplant offstage.
MNOp: Since this is the first time in Minnesota for both of you, is there anything you’re dying to try?
SH: I hope to have time for sightseeing. I like water very much, so perhaps it will be possible to go to a lake!
AL: I’m dying to try lutefisk, (although the concept scares me a little), and I’ve been hearing for years about what an incredibly vibrant arts community you guys have. I can’t wait to experience it myself!
Don’t miss MN Opera’s Elektra, 100 minutes of sheer vocal and orchestral power, when it opens October 5. Sabine Hogrefe performs October 5, 10, and 12. Alexandra Loutsion takes the stage October 8 and 13. Get your tickets today at mnopera.org/elektra!