Klytemnestra 2013, 2012 & 2011

Klytemnestra: the original subversive female

Premiere April 15, 2011, Divergence Music and Arts, Houston
Museum of Fine Art Houston, June 10, 2012
Dallas Museum of Art, May 17, 2013

Premiere Program, 2011
Program for Museum of Fine Art Houston, 2012


 

Misha Penton as Klytemnestra

 

Misha Penton, soprano, concept, director, producer, libretto. Music by Dominick DiOrio

Klytemnestra is based on Greek playwright, Aeschylus’ work, Agamemnon (458 BC), and is one of three plays comprising his trilogy, The Oresteia, telling the tragic familial events of the House of Atreus. Composer, Dominick DiOrio has set my words to music, and they wriggle from inky scribbles on a page into the soaring vocal embodiment of, arguably, the most influential and subversive Greek Heroine in all of the Greek plays: Klytemnestra. She stands against the polis, against the emerging male-ordered, linear, dualistic state; against the forming patriarchy that will define our culture (for women and men) for thousands of years after her time. She possesses the inherent potential of subversive expressivity in body, voice and word, and thus the power to entirely restructure the male paradigm of society. Her murder of Agamemnon is a symbolic rejection of Order and an embrace of Chaos - a metaphoric release from the confining limitation of societal acquiescence to power-over.


KLYTEMNESTRA PREMIERE GALLERY


I asked Dominick DiOrio to set my words to music - and with Mozartian brilliance my words wriggled from inky scribbles on a page into the soaring vocal embodiment of, arguably, the most influential and subversive Greek Heroine in all of the plays: Klytemnestra. She stands against the polis, against the emerging male-ordered, linear, dualistic state; against the forming patriarchy that will define our culture (for women and men) for thousands of years after her time. She possesses the inherent potential of subversive expressivity in body, voice and word, and thus the power to entirely restructure the male paradigm of society. Her murder of Agamemnon is a symbolic rejection of Order and an embrace of Chaos - it is Joy Unleashed, Metamorphosis Complete - a release from the confining limitation of societal acquiescence to power-over.

And now, the Tapestries are laid: follow their never-ending purple into The House of the Family of Atreus.


KLYTEMNESTRA AT THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS HOUSTON

 

Klytemnestra - The Original Subversive Female Scene 2 - Deception-Attraction. Dominick DiOrio, composer Misha Penton, soprano, concept, libretto, artistic directior, producer. Meg Brooker, dancer Meredith Harris, viola Kyle Evans, piano June 10, 2012 Museum of Fine Arts Houston.

 

KLYTEMNESTRA AT THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS HOUSTON GALLERY


Klytemnestra, daughter of Leda and Zeus
Fabled Swan
Mother to Iphegenia, the sun walking in a yellow dress
Sister to Helen of Troy
Wife of Agamemnon
Who sacrificed their daughter to war
My sweet, young girl
My only flower
Her throat a smile
Lips silent and set open
Where were you when he dropped her on stone like an animal and slit her open?
Where were you when time fell to banish him to dark roadways?
Walls bulge here and there
Gaps smile up at you from the floor
The house shudders, drops to its knees,
breaks apart
Its an old house
Your daughter's not coming back
Blood in The House of Atreus
Again, tell it again

(deconstructed from John Harvey’s beautiful translation of Aeschylus’ Agamemnon)


Klytemnestra’s Five Scenes:

Prologue/Scene 1: Obsession: Klytemnestra is Queen of Mycenae. Her husband, the Trojan War hero Agamemnon, has sacrificed their daughter, Iphigenia, to secure his victory in war, and has been at battle for ten years. In Agamemnon’s absence, Klytemnestra paces the halls, ruling and haunting the palace with her grief.

Scene 2: Deception/Attraction: As signal fires light the hills, heralding the Greek victory over the Trojans, Klytemnestra awaits her husband’s return.

Scene 3: Weaving Aria: Empowerment: Agamemnon returns and Klytemnestra lays the sacred tapestries of the House of Atreus at his feet. She invites him to walk upon them, entrapping him in a curse.

Scene 4: Iphigenia’s Song: Klytemnestra remembers her daughter, Iphigenia, and her grief fuels the seduction of Agamemnon.

Scene 5: Klytemnestra murders Agamemnon in his bath. Her deed does not quell her grief over the loss of her daughter, Iphigenia. Ultimately, their son, Orestes, will return to avenge is father.


Misha