Mozart’s opera ‘Idomeneo’ one of love lost and found
March 24, 2017
Amadeus Mozart's opera, "Idomeneo," will be the Metropolitan Opera HD Broadcast at the Breckenridge Colorado Mountain College on Saturday. Music director emeritus James Levine conducts an extraordinary ensemble in Mozart's early masterpiece of love and vengeance at the time of the 12th century BCE, Trojan War.
The opera opens in King Idomeneo's castle where Princes Ilia, one of the Trojan captives, sings a long recitative aria, in which she grieves the death of her father and brothers killed by the Greek army in the siege of Troy. While she hates King Idomeneo, she has fallen in love with his noble son, Idamante, who had rescued her from a shipwreck when she was abducted to Crete.
Idamante arrives on the scene. In a musical duet, he proclaims his love for Ilia, who in turn resists expressing her true feelings for him. In keeping with Idamante's love for Ilia, he has the Trojan captives released from confinement, who in a joyous chorus share their newfound peace.
Idamante's act of releasing the captives was condemned by his father, King Idomeneo, who now appears on the scene. He discharges his noble son from the kingdom. We later learned that the sea fod, Neptune, had saved Idomeneo from a shipwreck on his return to Crete. Idomeneo must disclose the person he selects as ransom in return for the sea god saving his life. In turn he names his son, Idamante, an act he intended to keep forever secret. Elettra, a past refuge from Troy now living in Crete, also falls in love with Idamante, serving as his escort on a distant journey in exile.
The remaining story of the opera is enacted as each of the characters share, in a series of long melodious, text-descriptive arias, their inner psychological despair and hopes for the future. Intermittent interactive chorus interludes, along with energetic orchestral support, allow family and friends to share in the despair expressed by each of the actors. In one of the final choral scenes, the High Priest, along with a group of parishioners, as ransom to appease the gods, demand that Idomeneo name the victim he has selected. The king confesses — it was his son, Idamante.
In contrast to the sad endings of many operas, this one is joyous as Idomeneo now turns the throne over to his son, Idamante, at the time of his marriage to Ilia. The only sad note is the suicide of Elletra, who finishes with a superb aria expressing her innermost despair over her loss of Idamante.
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Recent reviews indicate that tenor Matthew Polenzani, in the title role of Idomaneo, sings with elegant embodied character. Mezzo-soprano Alice Coote, in the trouser role of his noble son, Idamante, soprano Elza van den Heever as Elettra and soprano Nadine Sierra as Ilia, each "sing with noble passion and dignity."
This Met performance has been described as "a high point of the season." In another review, "the music overflows with marvelous melodies and powerfully affecting harmonies." Add some of his greatest and most dramatically important choruses — sung with an exciting, raw vitality by the Met Opera Chorus — "you have a masterpiece of music, if not an operatic masterwork."
Snacks and beverages will be available at each of the two intermissions with a suggested donation of $2. All are welcome to this "high point" Met Opera performance.