The capitalism vs. the people Idomeneo Act 3 (Jacobs, 2013)
Remember this one? I posted parts I and II way back when in January 2014. Thanks to this performance I 1) got interested in Idomeneo, 2) realised I quite like Rene Jacobs as a conductor, 3) became interested in the Arnold Schoenberg Choir, 4) Theater an der Wien appeared on my radar in style. So whilst cleaning the cobwebs inside the vault I thought I should to put this last part out, even all this time later.
I care because you do, as Richard D. James would say. Thanks to some interest shown in Act I and II, I took pity on this production and went back to finishing Act III, most of which – you will weep – was already written in January. Yes, that’s right, I had it in my drafts just sitting there, gathering virtual dust. But I couldn’t make up my mind what I wanted to say about Andro ramingo (I’m still not sure) and the ending (dramatically; now I think meh) and I had to also watch it again because my attention drifted away from the extremely exciting production. And then a flurry of Clemenze completely distracted me for many months. We all know it’s game over for everything else when that happens.
- Idomeneo: Richard Croft
- Idamante: Gaelle Arquez
- Ilia: Sophie Karthauser
- Elettra: Marlis Petersen
- Arbace: Julien Behr
- Il Gran Sacerdoto di Nettuno: Mirko Guadagnini
Conductor: Rene Jacobs | Theater an der Wien, Vienna, 2013 | Freiburger Barockorcherster | Arnold Schoenberg Choir
So it’s only been what, 3 years+? Right. Back in January 2014 we left off where Nessie gets angry at the Cretans. But by Act III he’s lost some steam and the weather has improved, because Wolfie needed to shoe in a bit of lovin’. Monsters and storms are fun for a couple of acts. But what’s the use of having two young people of marriageable age in your opera if you won’t make them fall in love?
Act III starts with Zeffiretti lusinghieri. Up to this point I said barely anything about Ilia. SK started quite screechy but maybe that’s how the director wanted it or maybe it was nerves. I gave her time to come into her own but by now I know that I don’t particularly like her voice. It’s sort of run of the mill, her vibrato bothers me and I’m not one to call foul on its use. She’s not that lacking in technique just kind of meh in presentation.
Principessa, a tuoi sguardi… ah, s’io non moro a questi accenti isn’t bad. Arquez is coping very well with Idamante’s transporto. Ilia takes pity on Idamante, who is at the end of his tethers after being rejected by both father and the woman he loves. She admits to her feelings and tells the poor sod she actually shares his love. They launch into the gorgeous duet that is S’io non moro. It’s a sweet moment, where our hitherto doomed lovers are finally getting a bit of respite from all the gloom and mud. Tutto vince il nostro ardor, Arquez and K sound beautiful together – moving and delicate. (But now that I’ve been there a few times it’s really hard to imagine the stage at TADW as muddy as that!) Of course they get interrupted but at least now they know where they stand which is together.
Andro ramingo e solo – an unsual one, this ensemble. Idamante: I’ll go looking for death and I’ll find it (and after that I’ll write a long post about it in my (online) diary). Ilia: Me too, me too! I wanna go with you. Elettra: (mocking Ilia wordlessly) Me too, me too! Then she abuses a lone plant (standing for hope I guess) Ilia later cares for. Idomeneo: Somebody kill me! I can’t watch Nessie chomp on my son! All: I can’t take this anymore! Idamante gives his dad his jacket (to sing to?) and Idomeneo physically abuses him a bit. Hey, mister, you’ve been really tough on the youngster by which we know you mean you really love him. Idamante puts the jacket back on, ready to take on Nessie. Ilia takes off his jacket, because we all know he can’t leave without it.
Arbace mourns Sidon’s fate and goes on a bit of rampage of his own then sings his aria about saving the local royal family. Behr’s voice is pleasant but the aria ain’t all that.
Nice intro to the Gran Sacerdoto, who’s got a pleasantly sacerdotal voice. The chorus swings low and noble then the music goes on like this for quite a while.
Trumpets. The choir gets busy. Idomeneo wonders what’s going on. Arbace rushes in with the news that Idamante put on his power suit to face off with Nessie. Idomeneo isn’t sure his delicate son is cut out for hand-to-tentacle combat. Idamante tries to convince him how noble it is to save his people by handing in a son. They argue over idealism vs. paternal love. Ilia shows up and isn’t keen on this Idamante as sacrificial lamb deal. She offers herself. She and Idamante go back and forth outdoing each other on who’s more ready to die.
Creepy celestial womb rumbles, all stand to attention. Foetus ex machina speakth: Idoemeo’s humanity has been taken on board but as a manager he has failed. He’s fired. Idamante is replacing him as King of Crete effective immediately. Ilia shall marry him and to hell with Elettra’s plans.
She can’t take this dissing and flings herself about in mud with abandon. The wig comes off. No more Miss Ditzygirl, she’s feral now. Marlis Petersen, that was some taking one for the team. The entire crew owes you one for getting mud in your eyes whilst singing the best (known) aria from the opera. Jacobs offers gentle support and she copes (although she bypasses the second set of evil laughter), especially considering what she has to do but it’s not all that grand vocally. I don’t think Petersen holds back as much as she doesn’t have the vocal oomph for this aria. I might be among the few who thought this production was entirely miscast save for this bad motherfucker. I mean, HELL yea, that’s portraying your character. No need for mud there. Harteros is pretty damn good in the Salzburg production but not on that level of losing it. Then again, her timbre is the closest to how I envision Elettra. Good thing nature never tossed Behrens and Harteros together, the earth might cleave and swarms of locusts might obscure the sun. (this paragraph sounds amusing to me now but that’s what I thought at the time…)
All live happily ever after. The end, tnx bi. (By which I mean I don’t get whatever Michieletto is trying to say. If you do, please enlighten me. Some productions seem very hard to break through)
The ballet and chaconne at the end is some of my favourite music in the whole piece, though I can imagine it gives headaches to directors (and is often cut? luckily it was neither here nor at ROH later that year). Conclusion 2017: Jacobs and the Freiburger Barockochester, the Arnold Schoenberg Choir and Richard Croft rock. The tempi are great. The other singers are pretty good. There was another chance to see this in concert performance form at TADW earlier this year but I couldn’t be in two places at the same time 😦 Anyway, it’s really worth listening to.