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Most theaters would consider it a win to have just one moment in a show that's so viscerally arresting, it causes many to put hands over hearts and gasp. "Iphigenia at Aulis," the Euripidean tragedy that kicks off Ten Thousand Things Theater's fall season, has many such gutting scenes.

In director Marcela Lorca's music-infused production that opened Saturday in Minneapolis' Powderhorn Park — an alfresco setting where rumbling jets and errant sirens did not dim its power — the first heartbreak happens when the title character sees her father, Agamemnon. He had sent word to Clytemnestra, his wife, that their daughter is to be married to warrior Achilles, so mother and daughter had made the journey to his war camp.

Brimming with joy, Iphigenia (Isa Condo-Olvera) skips to greet her lifelong protector. But Agamemnon (Steven Epp) can hardly face his daughter — he has lied to those closest to him and intends to offer up Iphigenia as a sacrifice. Ever so gently, he touches her face, then moves away. Heavy hangs the deceitful head of a father bent on murdering his daughter.

Marriage and sacrifice share more than commingled language in Lorca's spare but gripping production of W.S. Merwin's verse translation. The tragedy begins with rituals — both an elegant greeting by the chorus and guttural, martial chants. And it culminates with beautiful, chill-inducing music composed by J.D. Steele, who directs a community choir that envelops the production with such sweet sorrow.

"Iphigenia," a figure whose fate also was addressed by Greek tragedians Sophocles ("Electra") and Aeschylus ("Agamemnon"), has been a draw for artists through the ages, with operas and dances crafted in her name. You can see why contemporary interpreters would be attracted to her story, for it is replete with ideas around gender and toxic masculinity, war and patriarchy, sacrifice and salvation.

"Iphigenia" also has elements that redound with other faiths, as the story of her sacrifice has a mirror in the biblical story of Abraham and Isaac.

Lorca's production surfaces the show's conflict between worldly duties and otherworldly beliefs. Agamemnon (a commanding Epp) sounds almost like a politician grasping at any justification to carry out his foregone decision. Iphigenia must die because his brother, Menelaus (Will Sturdivant), pressured him. She must die to appease goddess Artemis, who will then make the winds fill the sails of his ships, blowing his bloodthirsty army to Troy. She must die for country; death is the proof of her patriotism.

Is this the language from 400 B.C.?

Lorca has cast the theatrical equivalent of Yankees all-stars for her sublime production. Condo-Olvera is sweet and earnest as Iphigenia, an innocent who finds her own courage and strength. Regina Marie Williams gives Clytemnestra magisterial agency, even if her power is futile against a steamrolling husband. Her character's attempts to save her daughter, including by cursing Agamemnon and falling to her knees to enlist Achilles' help, come up short but make our tears long.

Christopher Jenkins delivers an Achilles that is a force of nature. His warrior charges in with the adrenaline of a god but quickly becomes human as the character's courage is tied to having a clear black-and-white story. Once it becomes gray, he wobbles. Sally Wingert's Old Friend, who delivers messages for Agamemnon, is pleading and almost apologetic as she bears grim news. JoeNathan Thomas, similarly, is a theater heavyweight with a brief solo before he folds back into the malleable chorus.

There are lovely turns also by Stephanie Anne Bertumen as a messenger and Elizabeth Reese as Helen of Troy in a production that should be long remembered.

'Iphigenia at Aulis'
Who: Translated from Euripides' play by W.S. Merwin. Directed by Marcela Lorca with compositions by J.D. Steele.
When: 6 p.m. Thu.-Sat., 4 p.m. Sun.; Waterworks Park, Mpls. From Sept. 21-Oct. 2, 7:30 p.m. Wed.-Sat., 4 p.m. Sundays, Luminary Arts Center, 700 N. 1st St., Mpls.
Tickets: $35 general admission or pay as you can. 612-203-9502 or