Friday, July 3, 2015

Mozart's Idomeneo

Our Summer 2015 Friday Blog and Podcasts reach into past musings. Today's post is a repeat of a Once or Twice a Fortnight from September 14, 2012.

Some of the post's content and illustrations were changed to fit this month's thematic arc.


All Summer, we will be sharing music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, feeding a series exploring Mozart on stage and in concert settings.

Idomeneo, re di Creta ossia Ilia e Idamante (Italian for Idomeneo, King of Crete, or, Ilia and Idamante; usually referred to simply as Idomeneo, K. 366) is an Italian language opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The libretto was adapted by Giambattista Varesco from a French text by Antoine Danchet, which had been set to music by André Campra as Idoménée in 1712. Mozart and Varesco were commissioned in 1780 by Karl Theodor, Elector of Bavaria for a court carnival. He probably chose the subject, though it might have been Mozart.

It was first performed at the Cuvilliés Theatre of the Munich Residenz on 29 January 1781, under the baton of its 25-year-old composer. Idomeneo was Mozart's first mature opera. With it he demonstrated a mastery of orchestral color, accompanied recitatives, and melodic line. Dramatically, it adheres to the traditions of opera seria, making formal use of choruses and unfolding more as a sequence of sets than as a well-developed plot. Mozart fought with the librettist, the court chaplain Varesco, making large cuts and changes, even down to specific words and vowels disliked by the singers (too many "i"s in "rinvigorir"). Idomeneo was performed three times in Munich. Later in 1781 Mozart considered (but did not put into effect) revisions that would have brought the work closer into line with Gluck's style; this would have meant a bass Idomeneo and a tenor Idamante.

A concert performance was given in 1786 at the Palais Auersperg in Vienna. For this, Mozart wrote some new music, made some cuts, and changed Idamante from a castrato to a tenor.

Today Idomeneo is part of the standard operatic repertoire. There are several recordings of it, and it is regularly performed.



THE PERFORMANCE



The link provides an edited set of tracks taken from Sean Bianco’s Friday Night at the Opera Podcast of October 9 2009
. The tracks include Sean’s introductions to the three acts of the opera. The performance is by the Bavarian RSO under Sir Colin Davius in 1991.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Idomeneo, re di Creta ossia Ilia e Idamante, K. 366) 
Opera Seria in three acts, Italian libretto by Giambattista Varesco from a French text by Antoine Danchet

Barbara Hendricks, Ilia, daughter of King Priam of Troy 
Francisco Araiza, Idomeneo (Idomeneus), King of Crete 
Susanne Mentzer, Idamante (Idamantes), son of Idomeneo 
Roberta Alexander, Elettra (Electra), Princess of Argos 
Uwe Heilmann, Arbace (Arbaces), Idomeneo's confidant 

Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chorus
Sir Colin Davis, conducting.

Synopsis and more stories: 
http://www.epinions.com/content_4996178052?sb=1
Libretto : 
http://www.impresario.ch/libretto/libmozido_i.htm