[Met Performance] CID:270240

Metropolitan Opera Premiere, New Production

Metropolitan Opera House, Thu, October 14, 1982

Idomeneo received thirteen performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of F. Warren O'Reilly in the Washington Times

New York, N. Y. - With its stunning first full scale American production of Mozart's "Idomeneo" on Thursday, the Metropolitan Opera joined the late 20th Century Mozart revival in great style. The audience was enchanted with the vast number of soaring arias interspersed with melodic recitative, choral interludes and probably the first instances in opera of singers in duet, trio, and quartet. It was splendidly staged and directed by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, with lighting by Gil Wechsler, and boasted an all-star cast.

Following some lackluster performances last season, Luciano Pavarotti scored a triumph in the title role of a mythical Cretan King tormented by a vow to Neptune that would require the sacrifice of his beloved son. He was both an imposing and humanly affecitng figure, and his formerly silky tones had a new vibrancy. The two longer roles of the lovers - Idomeno's son Idamante, and the captive Trojan Princess Ilia - were sung by Frederica von Stade and Ileana Cotrubas.

Von Stade gave what must be dubbed a memorable performance both vocally and dramatically. Cotrubas's voice seemed a bit strained at the outset, but by Act II she, too, was giving a splendid account of her very demanding part. Veteran tenor John Alexander was superb in the role of Arbace, the King's confidante, his two big arias being models of Mozartian style and sensibility. Hildegard Behrens as Elettra, thrwarted in her efforts to win Idamante from Ilia, literally stopped the show with her brilliant last act aria that ended with her collapse - probably the first "mad" scene in all opera.(sic)

Chorus Master David Stivender must be credited for the excellent singing of the chorus, which carries part of the narrative, and smaller parts were handled in first rate fashion by Loretta Di Franco, Batyah Godfrey, Charles Anthony, James Courtney and Timothy Jenkins.

The orchestra was particularly effective in the two magnificent sequences of storm music, thought bo be the first such realistic musical tempests in any opera, though Conductor James Levine's tempos were erratic cand sometimes lethargic.

Mozart's third and finest "opera seria," composed when he was 24, was first heard in Munich in 1781. A professional performance was semi-staged at Tanglewood in 1947, and another in-concert version was mounted at New York's Town Hall in 1951.

The difficulties in staging this version were overcome by Ponnelle's use of classical Roman columns framing the stage, a broad flight of steps between, and a constantly shifting series of backdrops of monumental buildings and similar structures in ruins, all clearly derived from Piranesi. There were only two cuts made from the original version in this new production but in a work of such length no one noticed.

Photograph of Luciano Pavarotti as the title role in Idomeneo by Winnie Klotz/Metropolitan Opera.

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