Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Mozart’s Idomeneo lives!

Almost 200 years since  a 24-year old Mozart first composed and conducted Idomeneo, the Metropolitan Opera  in 1982 created this production by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle.  James Levine who was prime mover for the that production,  conducted it anew for the Met HD viewers all over the world on March 25, 2017.

How do you describe an opera like Idomeneo?

For one thing, you don’t talk about the plot which includes among other things, serious father-son relationship issues, not unlike Abraham and Isaac situation of God (in this case since post-Trojan war times) Neptune, ordering a slaying of the innocent son. 

This is only one of so many unbelievable situations to give opportunities for sublime singing.  Any attempt to follow a plot line is besides the point.  It’s the music which is convincing that serious human emotions are at stake here.

The cast is sublime.  Alice Coote is Idamante who is in love with a Trojan captured princess, Ilia,  sung by Nadine Sierra.  Sierra opens the opera with a beautiful aria and I found myself really believing that she was a Trojan princess.  Everyone would be in love with her—this brilliant young soprano— so that Idamante is captured by his captive, is no surprise.   

Matthew Polenzani is Idomeneo, who was friends of  the fellow warrior/now dead King Agamamnon, so that explains why his daughter Elettra aka Electra is now on Crete.   Idomeneo’s life was spared by promising Neptune he would slay the first person he sees, which turns out to be his son Idamante who was wandering on the beach.    He can only get out of this situation to slay his son as ordered by Neptune  by getting him out of Crete, as advised by Arbace  sung by Alan Opie.  So hence the obvious solution is to have Idamante take Elettra/Electra back home.  

Idomeneo refuses to look at Idamante to explain what is going on.  Ilia and Idamante are broken hearted at the separation.  Elettra/Electra is gleeful that she is about to have her chance to be with Idamante alone.

Live in HD host Eric Owens sings the role of Neptune for two minutes in Act III—a clue that things are going to get worked out for almost everyone except guess who!

For spoilers, Elza Van Den Heever as Elettra comes out of nowhere with a performance  at the end of Act III, that had everyone laughing.  (Richard Strauss did his version of Idomeneo and we all know that his Electra is no laughing matter.) 

It was an afternoon of the Met and Mozart at their best.  A winning combination.  Buy a lottery ticket, and maybe win a million dollars.  Buy a ticket to a Fathom Met HD simulcast, you are sure to win priceless moments of music.

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