“Trevor Nunn produced his first opera, Idomeneo, Glyndebourne in 1983, with felicitous results. John Napier's designs imaginatively evoke the Cretan milieu, supported by restrained, dignified costumes and lighting. The spare setting now seems a model beside what usually passes for decor today. Within it Nunn directs his principals and chorus with economic yet pointed care. Philip Langridge is a compellingly distraught and haunted Idomeneo, singing with his customary feeling for word-painting. He easily encompasses the longer version of 'Fuor del mar'. Carol Vaness offers a fiery, richly contoured Elettra. Yvonne Kenny's beautifully sung Ilia is more conventional and Jerry Hadley is a fresh, pleasing Idamante. Bernard Haitink conducts a lithe, forward-moving account of the score, though you'll need a high volume setting to get the best out of the sound.” (The Gramophone)
Idomeneo, King of Crete, has been away from home during the long years of the Trojan War. Idamante, his son, now regent of the island, waits for his return, heralded by the arrival of Trojan prisoners in Crete. One of these prisoners is Ilia, daughter of the murdered King Priam of Troy. Idamante has fallen in love with Ilia, but is loved by Electra, daughter of the Greek King, Agamemnon, who is taken refuge in Crete. The Drottningholm Court Theatre is a tiny and exquisite rococo theatre, the only surviving eighteenth-century theatre in Europe in perfectly-preserved working order. The Swedish conductor and musicologist Arnold Östman became the theatre’s director in 1981 and introduced an orchestra of original instruments playing an authentic style to complement the unique atmosphere of his surroundings and he has steadily built up a worldwide reputation for his authentic interpretation of Mozart. This revised revival of the acclaimed 1986 Drottningholm production by Michael Hampe conducted by Arnold Östman, was staged during the Mozart Bicentenary year. Combining both tragedy and comedy with drama, Idomeneo boasts a series of superbly expressive pieces which Einstein described as “one of those works that even a genius of the highest rank, like Mozart, could write only once in his life.”
This DVD of the recently issued Britten/Pears mini series recorded by the BBC for television way back in the 1960's and the 70's is for all intents and purposes another resounding success. All four priceless documents were thought lost, but this Idomeneo seems to have had a charmed life more than others. Indeed, three days before the Aldeburgh première, the hall was left in cinders and it is something of a miracle that the television production could actually go ahead. First broadcast in May 1970, critics and viewers alike were unanimous in their praise. Sung in English to a version prepared by Maisie and Evelyn Radford, Mozart's first operatic masterpiece is even more telling. A lot of credit should go to Britten himself, who not only conducted with committed ardour, but also prepared a musical edition all of his own. The staging has a classical dignity and avoids austerity altogether and both Pears and Harper give impressive performances. (Gerald Fenech)
Considered the greatest “opera seria,” Idomeneo was composed when Mozart was just twenty-five and a tour de force for all singers. A 1982 production starring superstar Luciano Pavarotti as Idomeneo, the tortured king of Crete, with Ilena Cotrubas and Frederica von Stade along with Hildegard Behrens providing the mad scenes!
Mozart's opera seria tells of the King of Crete who is saved from a terrible storm by promising the gods that he sacrifice the first person he meets when reaching land, only to be greeted by his beloved son Idamante. In this Salzburg staging under Sir Roger Norrington Mexican tenor Ramón Vargas sings the title role, with Czech mezzo Magdalena Kozena giving an acclaimed performance as Idamante. Salzburg favourite Anja Harteros is the jealous Elettra, with Ekaterina Siurina as Idamante's beloved Ilia.
„Idomeneo“ ist Mozarts wildestes Bühnenwerk und die Harnoncourt-Aufnahme, der eine szenische Produktion in Zürich mit Jean-Pierre Ponelle als Regisseur vorausging, macht das über die Maßen deutlich. Die Platte gehört zum Besten, was Harnoncourt überhaupt produziert hat – und der österreichische Dirigent hat von Bach bis Bruckner inzwischen unendlich viel auf den Markt gebracht, mehr als der Medien-Superstar Herbert von Karajan.
Originally released by Philips Classics on VHS and Laserdisc in 1991, the 13-part Mozart on Tour series chronicles the journeys of the child, adolescent and adult Mozart across Europe, in what was ultimately to prove a futile pursuit of fame and fortune.