This Glyndebourne effort compares well with Pavarotti/Met production
This is such a wonderful opera. It is surprising it is not up there in popularity with Mozart's top 4 or 5. Could it be that unlike Don Giovanni and The Marriage of Figaro the hero is not a baritone? Could it be that unlike Cosi Fan Tutte and The Magic Flute, there is no principal baritone or bass part? Instead we have two or three tenor parts (depending on whether Idamante, Idomeneo's hapless son is cast as a tenor or mezzo-soprano) and two or three sopranos (again depending on how Idamante is cast)!
Still, there is an adequate supply of complete CD recordings and at least four DVD versions. And obviously there is no problem in finding two or three tenors with sufficiently different timbres to do the work justice.
This is definitely the case in this production. Jerry Hadley's elegant and silvery tenor makes Idamante youthful passion both moving and credible. This is beautifully contrasted with Phillip Langridge's brilliant and tortured Idomeneo. Just compare his rendition of Idomeneo's great aria "Fuor del mar" with Pavarotti's. The latter may have the infinitely more beautiful voice, but he is such a wooden actor that you hardly feel convinced of the internal turmoil the aria is meant to convey. Langridge wins hands down in the acting stakes. Vocally, Pavarotti just manages to do a decent job of the technical difficulties, but does not compare with the visceral effect that Langridge's vocal pyrotechnics achieve.
Hadley vs Federike von Stade as Idamante? This depends on which voice type you prefer in the role. Both are good. But my preference is for a tenor Idamante.
Glyndebourne's Carol Vaness is much more seductive as against the Met's convincingly demented Hildegarde Behrens as the spurned princess Elettra. Marginally I prefer the latter.
Finally the clincher is the Ilia of one of Australia's greatest ever singers, Yvonne Kenny. Her singing is simply beautiful in the Glyndebourne production, trumping Ileana Cotrubas for the Met at every turn.
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