adaptation Matteo Luoni
tutor Antonio Latella and Linda Dalisi
direction assistant Matteo Luoni
direction Antonio Latella
characters and interpreters
Agamemnon Leonardo Lidi
Elettra Marta Cortellazzo Wiel
Miserable Alexis Aliosha Massine
Choir Mariasilvia Greco e Barbara Mattavelli
Oreste Christian La Rosa
Pilade Andrea Sorrentino
Master Gianpaolo Pasqualino
Clytemnestra Ilaria Matilde Vigna
Aegisthus Emanuele Turetta
Messenger Isacco Venturini
Dioscuri Isacco Venturini e Alessandro Bay Rossi
project plywrights Federico Bellini e Linda Dalisi
production Emilia Romagna Teatro Fondazione
with the support of Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena
Duration 1h 50′
Played in Italian with English subtitles
in the frame of the project “At the Prospero’s School. Actors in the global net”
“I have three daughters, in the well-built palace / Chrysothemis, Laodice and Iphianassa”. So speaks Agamemnon, in the ninth Book of the Iliad. He offers one of his daughters to Achilles so that he will return to battle. What strikes the reader is Laodice’s name, “community justice”, while the omission of Electra’s comes as a surprise. Perhaps Laodice is Electra, that same Electra who has become àlektron, “she who has never known the marriage bed”, after her father’s death. That death from which everything began. From which even Electra was born.
Even though in his Catalogue of Women, Hesiod mentions her as a girl “whose beauty competes with that of the immortal goddesses”, Electra does not belong to the myth. She is a literary invention, which will come to life only in the classic theatre in fourth/fifth century B.C. Athens.
It is a peculiar genesis, which belongs more to the written narrative than to the oral one, as it is, amongst all the tragedies, the most rewritten one. It is possible to enumerate more than 200 theatrical or cinematographic adaptations, but the number could be close to a thousand.
Electra is a character, but she is also an event: the assassination of Aegisthus and Clytemnestra by Orestes, who in this way avenges the killing of Agamemnon, his father, king of Argos. Orestes is the one holding the sword, it is he who will have to expiate the terrible punishment of the Erinyes. So… what does Electra have to do with this?
Since Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, Electra has been crystallized in her relationship with Agamemnon: she is the one mourning her father’s death, hating her mother and living in anger. A personality or a stereotype that does not do justice to a character whose complexity makes her impossible to define. Perhaps it was attempting to tame this undefinable character that proved to be the hardest task for those who tried to rewrite her over the centuries. Almost as though the rewriting process resembled the excavation of a character; previously hidden amongst the clotted earth in the countryside that skirts the edges of Argos city.
However, resolving Electra is not possible. Agamemnon’s daughter is impossible to explain because she remains unresolved herself. Deprived of a father, a mother, a family and, most of all, an identity: no longer a princess but an exile, married to a poor farmer. No longer in a palace, but in a shelter. Incapable of being a wife and determined not to become mother to a son that could not be the proud holder of the title of prince.
The only roots of Electra’s identity can be traced to her being Orestes’ sister. Orestes: a homeless person with no father nor homeland, who was never taught what it means to be king.
Because Electra does not live the matricide as the person holding the knife.
Electra is the knife.
Once the fatal wounds have been inflicted, once the irreparable harm has been done, she’ll become rust in Orestes’s hands, and an ever-living memory of a murder. We will find her in subsequent events, next to her brother and to Pylades, her future husband, still. But she’ll no longer be herself. Maybe she’ll go back to being called Laodice. Or maybe she will no longer be.