The Greek mythological character of Clytemnestra is often portrayed as a villain, as she is in Richard Strauss’s famous opera Elektra. The story goes that while her husband Agamemnon is away fighting the Trojan war, she begins a love affair with Aegisthus, and upon her husband’s return, the two murder him.
But the full story is more complicated. Agamemnon is only husband to Clytemnestra because he killed her first husband and her infant son. He then sacrifices their daughter, Iphigenia, as an offering to the gods to help him in battle. So, Clytemnestra has plenty of reasons to want Agamemnon out of her life.
His Fate is Sealed humanizes Clytemnestra’s trauma, her love for her murdered daughter, and her righteous anger against Agamemnon and dramatizes her decision to end his life. The closing vocal statement is a reinvention of motives from Elektra’s aria at the beginning of Strauss’s opera.
His Fate is Sealed was commissioned and premiered by Brittany Walker, who also authored the libretto.
Image credit: Clytemnestra, John Collier, 1882 (public domain)
Text by Brittany Walker:
I said no and he ignored me.
Begged him for solace and he degraded me.
My daughter--my one bright light- snuffed out to save himself.
I am no mortal!
The blood of the Gods courses through my veins!
I said no.
He ignored me.
He degraded me.
He destroyed her.
I said NO.
His fate is sealed.