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is idomeneo boring – new search term

Haha!

Well, is it?

It depends. It’s certainly rather too long. The story has potential not matched by the librettist’s skills. The mezzo hopeful doesn’t have access to any arias on the level of Parto or Deh, per questo…

But there is a ravishing duet that does often include a mezzo and there is Fuor del mar for the Mozart tenor. Most famous of all is Elettra’s showstopper. And lest we forget, the choruses, which do rival Tito‘s (I have been quoted in the past saying they are better. Again, it depends on who’s conducting/singing). Also, Mozart himself was very excited to write it and there are many letter back-and-forths between him and his father to document the (not particularly smooth – due to external forces -) process.

Conclusion: mixed bag. Definitely worth a listen but pick your conductor/singers/chorus combo wisely. Make sure your Idamante is a mezzo, the other options simply fall short here.

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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.

Wonderful Mozart duets: S’io non moro a questi accenti

As “doomed lovers” Mozart duets go, I’m very fond of this one (recit included). Perhaps because it comes at such a dramatic moment in the opera (Idamante has decided to face Nessie and possibly die since (he thinks) Ilia doesn’t love him anyway; his impassioned recit convinces Ilia to reveal her own love for him, so now Idamante is about to pass out from an unexpected infusion of happiness).

I kept thinking about Idamante. He’s constantly and inexplicably (for all he knows) being rejected by those he loves most for over two acts. That’s really shitty, especially considering he always tries to do the right thing. In Il padre adorato he wonders what he’s done to deserve such brutal treatment from the father he longed for since his childhood. He proves himself an open minded and generous regent when he frees Ilia’s people yet she keeps a cold distance (not that she should simply love him for that but she’s beyong unfriendly).

As the opera rolls on I’m anxious for him to get a break and finally this duet arrives at the beginning of Act III. Whew. Of course it needs to be cut short by the arrival of Idomeneo and that busybody Elettra. Even so – or perhaps moreso – what a little gem of hope and gentle giddiness! The tune meanders in what it feels to me like the push and pull intrinsic to the moment two (shy) people who love each other open up to their feelings. Oh, young love 😉

Idomeneo – the last return of the shark (ROH, 24-11-14)

Seeing Mozart’s two great opere serie within the same week is cause for great joy chez dehggi. The drama! The choruses! The shark. The Vitellia. So bear with me if I keep making parallels between the two.

This Monday was the last performance of this Idomeneo‘s run. In spite of – or because of – the controversy, the house was well filled. There were some boos again, but I’ve also overheard people my grandparents’ age talking positively about it. There is hope.

“[…] and [Neptune] swiftly has/ his great scaly steeds/ harnassed. From out the waves/ robust tritons/ jovially sound/ their loud/ trumpets around.”

Idomeneo: Matthew Polenzani
Idamante: Franco Fagioli
Ilia: Sophie Bevan
Elettra: Malin Byström
Arbace: Stanislas de Barbeyrac
High Priest: Krystian Adam
Voice: Graeme Broadbent
Conductor: Marc Minkowski | Choir and Orchestra of the ROH
Director: Martin Kušej

Something fishy. Having seen it twice I admit there is something curious about it. Do you know, of that cast, who got the biggest applause? Take a guess.

Bloody Arbace. Are you people serious?! Like I said in the last review, nothing against Stanislas de Barbeyrac, he held his own (and his accordion). He even undressed to his undershirt. He sported a beanie and a poked out eye.

But Arbace? This is akin to going to Tito for Publio. Except Tardi s’avvede is so much better an aria. I mean they are not even in the same galaxy. On the other hand, one can only speculate how much applause a good Publio would get… Especially if he takes off his Chief of Guards armour (during a trio, perhaps. Doing it during Tardi would just be exploitative 😉 although a plausible angle to Tito).

Adjusting the volume level. Going twice is a good idea but going twice three weeks apart and sitting in different places in the house might not make the best base for comparison. For instance, when I went the first time and had a central seat in the Upper Gallery, I thought Byström’s Elettra wasn’t all that loud. Now that I was sat in a closer spot to the one I had when I saw her as Donna Anna in February, I thought she was loud enough. In other words: don’t sit on the Lower Gallery horseshoe’s arms if you’re seeing something you know is going to be loud (like Strauss). Sit there for Mozart (but watch out if Nicola Luisotti’s conducting, he’ll want a racket) or if the ladies have cleavage…

On the Idamante front. Happy to report Franco was way more relaxed this late in the game. I also thought his acting was very strong, especially when Idamante became exasperated with Idomeneo not telling him what the hell was going on and at the beginning of Andro ramingo. He had some beautiful pianissime throughout and, once again, S’io non moro a questi accenti, Idamate’s duet with Ilia, was wonderful. Franco and Bevan blended like buttah. That bit is like a ray of sunshine during the Apocalypse. Even though I like a mezzo better in this role (but not any mezzo and definitely not Kozena – sorry, hon), I’ve warmed up to the CT possibility (as with mezzos, try not to draft any wimps). Yet, for the love of god, please no tenors.

Dramatically, some things became clearer: there is a lot of foreshadowing in the text. Idomeneo knows that things will end badly for his son even if he outlives the terrible situation. He seems resigned to his fate to see no way out as puppet to the High Priest. The splinter cell that frees Idamante is orchestrated by the High Priest (he has “a revelation” (a recit) immediately after he convinces Idomeneo to sacrifice Idamante. He’s really odious. To the lions!). He seems to have won over everybody’s favourite accordion player and Ilia. The thugs he sends out for this are younger but they turn into the same old hippies with guns during the final ballet tableaux (as time passes). So Idamante is truly alone, as Idomeneo used to be. This is very simply illustrated during the “wedding cake” tableau, when he is standing with Ilia and whilst he becomes uncomfortable, she does not change.

Ongoing homage to Delacroix. During the rounding up of the captured Trojans it occurred to me that Kušej must really like Delacroix. I’ve been thinking for years that he visually quoted The Massacre at Chios in the Act I finale of his Tito so spotting a hint of The Barque of Dante here didn’t come as much of a surprise. Then again, one day I might run into him in a pub and right after I shake his hand and congratulate him on his Delacroix references he tells me he has no clue what the hell I’m on about.

The funny dressed folks with the shark. This time I thought the choir was rather all over the place during Nettuno s’onori but got significantly better afterwards, with its last two interventions especially poignant. Sometimes I thought Minkowski went too softly but later I decided his manner is lighter than what you usually get at ROH. I think I just indiscriminately want Nettuno s’onori blasted out the way Eterni dei gets done. If I were to conduct it I’ll probably go the Luisotti way and let rip. But that’s not necessary a good idea, in the Idomeneo scheme of things and especially with this production, come to think of it. Maybe that all over the place thing was all about confusion.

Arm waving news. Sound-wise, Minkowski was on top of it again. From my perch I had a very good view of the orchestra and watched them and him at work. I like his style; he might have a light touch but it’s definitely not lacking in drama.

Miscelaneous. Ilia’s Se il padre perdei came off as a better aria than I’ve given it credit thus far. The bassoon helped. Andro ramingo is still weird – though it might be meant that way, it’s got four people in it that feel mostly weird about each other.

The first time around I couldn’t figure out Elettra’s deal in this production. Now I think she’s supposed to have been groomed by the High Priest as the next first lady and when she fails she’s discarded. Yea, you thought she was the mean one and Ilia the ray of sunshine, eh?

Now onto the music vs. the production. Though I know Idomeneo a lot less well than Tito, I think Mozart was a lot more straight forward here. As in, the music isn’t cynical at all and the lyrics are downright corny pastoral. This came out glaringly during Nettuno s’onori (which has powerfully cheesy lyrics – for my 21st century sensibility – as you can see in the caption above), in contrast to the shark. However, it’s about as odd playing that straight in 2014 as Tito’s musings about the peasant who – supposedly – has such honest relationships with his loved ones. (Only Bruce Ford can do that with a straight face. He must’ve been Voltaire in a previous life). We’re definitely not living in a time of benevolent despots. So if you thought the shark was silly, read the lyrics again.

The main tune of the ballet at the end that reoccurs several times is so evocative, like the basset horn theme in Non piu di fiori. This one feels like a fairy tale closing formula: …then they all turned evil and Idamante was left alone in shark infested waters. That’s all, folks!

But, Grandpa Kušej, did the sharks eat Idamante? Yep. Now close your eyes and sleep tight. I promptly had a nightmare about a dystopian Manhattan (it’s always Manhattan) where kids playing with unattended surveillance equipment (!) set in motion major carnage against innocents. I kid you not.

Idomeneo or entropy as fate (ROH, 3-11-14)

The demure ROH audiences haven’t seen Idomeneo since November 1989. And then they got this one. Haha. Judging by their reaction, they didn’t expect anything like this on their turf. But thank goodness we occasionally get interesting productions around here.

Idomeneo: Matthew Polenzani
Idamante: Franco Fagioli
Ilia: Sophie Bevan
Elettra: Malin Byström
Arbace: Stanislas de Barbeyrac
High Priest: Krystian Adam
Voice: Graeme Broadbent
Conductor: Marc Minkowski | Choir and Orchestra of the ROH
Director: Martin Kušej

Mozart at 25: makes me think of a young Andy Murray. Here’s a chap who’s obviously talented and has interesting ideas. Yet he hasn’t learned how to end a match in three sets. Wait a sec, dehggi, you’ll say, Idomeneo has three acts! Yes, but do they go on and on or what? Like Murray, Mozart defeats himself here. There are many great ideas but the whole fails to pack as big a punch as it could had young Wolfie edited himself. In his defence, Idomeneo straddles the uneasy ground between Baroque opera seria and Classical opera seria. It struck me in the middle of Fuor del mar: a bravura aria about – what else – a storm at sea! What about D’Oreste, d’Ajace? – furies, serpents. Throwbacks from an older, more formalist age. The humanity of this opera lies in its choruses.

Minkowski: does as much as he can to keep it brisk and interesting, even jaunty (if you can imagine Idomeneo as such). He especially succeeds with the wonderful choruses of which there are plenty. I was about to say I liked Jacobs’ take on Nettuno s’onori when – seemingly out of nowhere – he pulled a marvelous interplay between the male and female voices. Throughout the night his attention to detail brought out Mozart’s brilliant inventiveness and the many layers this work has. He was exceptionally supportive of his singers.

The singing: the unquestionable star of the evening was Polenzani. The man knows how to command a stage, especially in the powerful scene where he reveals to the angry mob that Idamante is the innocent victim of Neptune’s anger. His Fuor del mar was good, though not as good as Richard Croft’s. His voice was solid throughout. Though he wasn’t the most fatherly Idomeneo, he definitely embodied the strong but just ruler.

Franco sang well but seemed terribly tense for most of the night. I couldn’t understand a word he said until after the intermission. Now, like I said before, lack of diction is hardly a great crime against my taste. It did feel like it was due to nerves and I kept wanting him to relax. Idamante is hard done by and, as such, not the most interesting character. Also, his arias aren’t all that. The best thing he sings all night is his and Ilia’s smallish duet S’io non moro a questi accenti, with its gorgeous vocal arabesques. It came out beautiful, with Franco and Sophie Bevan mixing optimally. As usual, Kušej has the lovers in the opera act like lovers from the get-go and these two had as much time to smooch and look cute together as this opera can allow. However, I think I prefer a mezzo Idamante. Mozart seems to need a bit more heft in the voice, especially in Non ho colpa. The role doesn’t call for his lovely chest notes and as such he’s not in a position to show all he can. Opera buddy was a lot less kind than me but – allowing for this nerve-stricken moment – I’m going to give Franco another chance to prove me wrong in a couple weeks’ time. Sophie Bevan sounded pretty good and looked lovely but I’m not the biggest fan of Ilia’s music, save for the above-mentioned duet.

Malin Byström’s Elettra reminded me of Glyndbourne Rinaldo‘s Armida. She chewed scenery all right but I was a tad underwhelmed by her D’Oreste, d’Ajace. Judging by how loud she can project I’d expected more body to her hahahas. Maybe those expectations were wrong. But I guess I can be excused for having had them having seen her loud’n’dirty Donna Anna earlier this year.

This version kept Arbace’s very long and boring aria. Nothing against Stanislas de Barbeyrac, he was fine, but was stuck with that uninteresting (to me) bit of music. He was also equipped with an accordion throughout, which I guess makes him a bard. Rob might be happy to hear he undressed to his undershirt during the aria 😉

Kušej: lives! – harsh and uncompromising and spellbinding. He was booed, of course. ROH audiences: still tuned to Classic FM.

Those familiar with this Kušej production

Act2fin

would recognise many of his favourite tools: what I call “tableaux” (like the one pictured, of which there are even more here, as the choir is very active), complex personenregie (complete with lurking/menacing behind the scenes player), boys in underwear (eventually armed), the somewhat dopey, motley dressed chorus, people cowering to safety through smoke, lots of to-and-froing whilst singing, and above all, the starkly bleak ending.

What Kušej does this time is bring the concept of Neptune into contemporaneity. The tableau he did for the pivotal chorus Nettuno s’onori has the motley choir on their knees, forced to worship a ridiculous shark. The idea is that Idamante’s youthful good intentions have been hi-jacked by the High Priest’s armed thugs who have taken advantage of the vacuum of power caused by Idomeneo’s absence. A splinter group led by “The Voice” rescues Idamante at the last moment and deposes Idomeneo. After Idomeneo’s heartfelt speech in which he perfunctorily renounces power in his son’s favour, the motley chorus steps over his dead body on their way to blindly praising the new ruler off stage. The curtain falls and some people start clapping but nope, it’s not the end. Haha. The “curtain” (via a projection) tells us that utopias fade, rebellions decay but people never change. Cue in uncomfortable audiences. The curtain stays down whilst the orchestra plays merrily on. I sniggered. Eventually Kušej takes pity on them and has the curtain back up. The panels spin, revealing more tableaux. The audience is unimpressed.

Idamante and Ilia wed atop a white sheet covering the bloody mess that brought them to power. Idamante already looks uncomfortable but there’s hippies with guns all around them and you don’t mess with hippies with guns. There is more spinning of panels – like in his Don Giovanni – a lot of ideas thrown at you but you could guess that. I doubt I’m going to come anywhere near figuring it all out tonight, though this production is a lot more transparent than his Tito. But you can see there are a lot of parallels between the two – the lonely ruler, the illusion of power, the entrapping ominous outside forces…

…maybe even more than ideas, I’m left with a lot of unusual feelings.

…And the plastic chair shall be king

I’m not going to lie, I enjoy a good cliche when I see one (remember the Reactor of Doom staircase? I want one for my lounge). This blog would be more picture happy had we but media library space enough and time (or at least less laziness). Today I’m neither lazy nor pressed for time, so –

I’ve noticed (regie) opera directors have a weak spot for plastic chairs. Here are some examples off the top of my head, although I bet there’s much more (and even more compelling and statement-making) out there:

classroomR

Rinaldo (Glyndebourne) – I think this one is the Granddaddy of them all, as it’s not simply chairs, but classrooms elevated to the status of compelling spaces. I’m iffy on the production but man, I wish Goffredo, Armida and Argante could’ve been summoned in my history class! The Physics teacher needed some hissing angui d’Aletto coming out of her drawer(s).

chairsId

Idomeneo (Theater-an-der-Wien) – the kingdom has gone bankrupt whilst Idomeneo was away so we’ve learned to make the most out of our chairs. Fear our metallic legs, Neptune!

lootersOE

Orphee et Eurydice (Munich) – Orphee and Eurydice surprise looters on returning home unannounced. Eurydice was so upset with Orphee’s negligence, she decided to return to the Elysian Fields. Channeling Offenbach.

So what did we learn? The plastic chair makes a compelling statement. Of some sort1.


  1. Earlier this week I went to see the Malevich exhibit at the Tate Modern (who doesn’t like the Black Square, eh?). One of the canvases was painted on both sides. Why do you think he did that? asked my ex and fellow art lover. Knowing Malevich’s cerebral bent, I pondered the endless possibilities. Hold on, my ex said, it says here he was skint. 

ROH’s 2014 Idomeneo (3-24 November)

I’m really chuffed about this, after having caught the Idomeneo bug at the beginning of the year. Matthew Polenzani, whom I enjoyed as Tito last month, will tackle the title role and he’ll likely sound excellent but isn’t he a bit young for a father role? Bystrom will surely make that D’Oreste, d’Ajace ring and we’ll see how she deals with the softer moments. Sophie Bevan has the chops for Ilia. Chap Idamante could be interesting, I haven’t heard a production featuring a countertenor yet. I looked Fagioli up and hey, his Dopo notte ain’t bad at all. In fact, it’s pretty damn great and you might remember I think Ann Hallenberg owns Ariodante. I wouldn’t mind seeing Fagioli in this role either – not that this has anything to do with Idomeneo, just a random observation. Moving on, I like Minkowski so no problem there. Curious what Kusej does this time. But most of all I want to hear the ensembles and choruses rock the ROH auditorium. Perhaps I could go twice?

Grand choruses for sticky moments

Nettuno s’onori concludes the first act of Idomeneo and is my favourite Mozart chorus and my favourite bit from that opera (although I’m very fond of everything from there on to the end of Act II). It has a welcome settling effect on me, as if it can concentrate my inner tension and expel it.

The capitalism vs. the people Idomeneo Act 2 (Jacobs, 2013)

  • Idomeneo: Richard Croft jacobs
  • 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, 2013 | Freiburger Barockorcherster | Arnold Schoenberg Choir

Now that I’ve seen the entire production there’s a few things:

a) Jacobs, you freaking beauty, this was amazing. I was saying in an earlier post how a production can open up an opera for you. Ironically, I was hoping one Idomeneo production would help me get into it like that creative Semiramide from ’81 did. Alas, it’s back to the music with Idomeneo. Left to the visuals I’d have eventually defected. Jacobs runs a tight ship and his compass is true (bo-boom-tsch).

b) wow, the director doesn’t like anybody. Everybody this side of Idamante gets dirty or severely muddy and constantly long-faced. What a miserable bunch of mofos. I wouldn’t say this if the contrast with the music wouldn’t be so glaring. There are very clear uplifting moments in the score yet the director plods on with the gloom. Meh.

c) acting: what happened? The singers seem left to their own devices. Or I hope so. Otherwise the director has no clue how to illustrate drama. Constant flailing diminishes the big dramatic moments. I thought this was covered in acting 101. At least that’s what I (a natural flailer) learned. As much as I’m one of those who feel.every.moment.of.it, I must agree. Conserving energy, visually and physically, makes the big moments of unleashed movement that much more effective. Here everybody flails in gran cemento at any given moment. I occasionally chuckled out loud and this is not the kind of opera you should be chuckling at. I don’t think the director understands loftiness. This opera is all about noblesse d’esprit and what we get is teeth gritting hard done by characters. You can be noble in the mud, you know? Amateurs.

And now on to Act II

The capitalism vs. the people Idomeneo Act 1 (Jacobs, 2013)

  • Idomeneo: Richard Croft idomante
  • 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

I’ve long been looking for the right Idomeneo, the one to wow me once and for all to Wolfie’s first opera seria of maturity, which has eluded me for an inordinate amount of time. It has to happen some time, being that I’m a sucker for Mozart’s opere serie.

Somehow older productions of Idomeneo have not quite done it for me and the search is still on although this is very close indeed. I’m not opposed to regie by any means but sometimes… well, sometimes it’s really hard not to chuckle. For instance, the central pit in the Salzburg ’06 production has always bugged me, although there are some fine singers in that production.

I finally sat down to watch this hot new production. The smiley Mezzo TV presenter says the director (Damiano Michieletto) is the new enfant terrible of Italian opera direction, which made me apprehensive but I didn’t want to prejudge. Apparently he’s directing Ceci Bartoli’s next Cenerentola at Salzburg’s Withsun. I’ve seen weird Cenerentolas before so I’m curious which way weird that one turns out.

Act I