Klytemnestra: A Myth in Six Music Videos

Misha Penton
Misha Penton
Kerry Beyer

Last week, Art Attack's 100 Creatives series profiled Houston opera singer Misha Penton. This Friday and Saturday, at her newly opened Divergence Vocal Theater , Penton presents the opera dance theater work Klytemnestra ("the original subversive female") that re-imagines of the story of the Greek anti-heroine. Klytemnestra is an especially inspiring example of artists from various disciplines, including composer Dominick DiOrio, playwright John Harvey, and choreographer Meg Booker as well as Divergence Vocal Theater founder Penton, combining their strengths to create, produce, and market a 21st century chamber opera.

Not coincidentally, this past week and weekend Houston had its own Dionysia. Greek mythology is popping up all over H-Town in the visual, musical, and movement arts. As a part of the current pagan festivities, Art Attack would like to take you through the complex tale of Klytemnestra by way of half a dozen (you guessed it) music videos featuring some of our century's most uncompromising female singers and performers. We suggest you watch and listen to each video closely as you will be tested on this material.

Time and location: Ancient Greece. Klytemnestra, daughter of the king and queen of Sparta, is forced into a loveless marriage to Agamemnon after he kills her first husband and infant son...

(Joni Mitchell "Edith and the Kingpin")

Agamemnon sacrifices one of the four children he's had with Klytemnestra in order to get the "favorable winds" he needs to sail to Troy and rescue Helen (Klytemnestra's sort of half sister. It's complicated...). While away, he also plans to shop around for a concubine or two. When Klytemnestra discovers her husband's treachery, she is nearly driven crazy with grief...

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(PJ Harvey "Down By The Water")

Agamemnon is far away fighting a war and having a ball. The years roll by. Klytemnestra begins an hot and heavy affair with his cousin Aegisthus. And the two of them begin to plot the murder of Agamemnon...

(The Pretenders "The Adultress")

Agamemnon finally returns home with no idea what fate has in store for him. Eye witness accounts vary, but one thing is clear: After Klytemnestra visited Agamemnon in his bath, he was never, ever seen again...

(Diamanda Galas and John Paul Jones "Do You Take This Man?")

Agamemnon is dead. Klytemnestra is reunited with her lover Aegisthus to rule over the land. Can there be peace at last?

(Diana Ross and the Supremes "Back In My Arms Again")

Of course not! Klytemnestra and Aegisthus are eventually killed by Klymenstra's own son Orestes seeking to avenge his father's death. What thoughts went through her head when she realized her fate?

(Nina Simone "Oh Lord, Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood")

Klytemnestra premieres at 8 p.m., April 15 and 16, at Divergence Music & Arts at Spring Street Studios, 1824 Spring Street. Ticket information is available at the Divergence Vocal Theater website.

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