The Metropolitan Opera Presents: Season 7, Episode 3

Idomeneo (6 Nov. 1982)
"Live from the Metropolitan Opera" Idomeneo (original title)

TV Episode  -   -  Music
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Returning home from the Trojan Wars during a storm, Idomeneo, the king of Crete, vows to sacrifice to Neptune (the Greek god Poseidon) the first living creature he meets ashore in return ... See full summary »



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Title: Idomeneo (06 Nov 1982)

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Episode credited cast:
Ileana Cotrubas ...
Frederica von Stade ...
Loretta di Franco ...
Women of Crete (as Loretta Di Franco)
Batyah Godfrey Ben-David ...
Women of Crete
Charles Anthony ...
Trojan Soldiers
James Courtney ...
Trojan Soldiers
Hildegard Behrens ...
John Alexander ...
Timothy Jenkins ...
Richard J. Clark ...
Voice of Neptune
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Metropolitan Opera Ballet ...
Himself - Conducted by
Metropolitan Opera Chorus ...
Metropolitan Opera Orchestra ...
Themselves - Orchestra


Returning home from the Trojan Wars during a storm, Idomeneo, the king of Crete, vows to sacrifice to Neptune (the Greek god Poseidon) the first living creature he meets ashore in return for his own safety. The first person he sees turns out to be his own son Idamante, and Idomeneo attempts to escape from fulfilling his vow. Idamante, meanwhile, is loved by orphaned prisoner Ilia and by the jealous Electra. Who will be sacrificed, and who will stay with Idamante? Written by Fiona Kelleghan <>

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6 November 1982 (USA)  »

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Pavarotti better on screen than on CD in Mozart
25 August 2006 | by (Launceston, Australia) – See all my reviews

The great tenor Luciano Pavarotti was never a Mozartian. The voice is simply not suitable, The style is always "Pavarotti" and in spite of the visceral excitement of that voice, an unmistakable timbre which gives most listeners goose-bumps, he is simply one of the least intelligent tenors around to be able to attempt anything that requires subtlety and elegance like Mozart or intellectual interpretive skills, for example, to sing lieder.

I should say at once that this is not a bash Pav and barrack for Domingo trip. Because Placido Domingo has also recorded the role of Idomeneo, and although Domingo can sing Wagner and is just about one of the most intelligent operatic interpreters around, he is no Mozart tenor either. In fact his recordings of Mozart arias are pretty embarrassing. And if Pavarotti barely scores a 6 as Idomeneo, Domingo would be struggling to hit the 5 mark.

But who can blame two of my generations great operatic tenors for essaying this most taxing of Mozart tenor roles. The character is not limp wristed wimp like Ottavio (Don Giovanni) or an idiot (like Fernando in Cosi). Mozart was not that interested in tenors (the two main male parts are baritones in Le Nozze, and both Sarastro and Papageno in their opposite ways far more interesting than boring Tamino in Magic Flute). So Idomeneo is a great gift to a tenor who can conquer both the technical difficulties as well as the acting challenges of Greek tragic proportions.

It is very telling that both Pavarotti and Domingo sing the EASY version of Idomeneo's great aria "Fuor del Mar", in which the ill-fated king laments that Neptune is exacting a most horrible price for his being saved from a monstrous tempest at sea. Idomeneo has promised to sacrifice the first person he meets on shore in order to be saved.... and guess who he sees first? (read the synopsis for yourself!) This aria is at the very core of the drama, and describes with unrelenting ferocity the storm that is within Idomeneo's breast.

Obviously Pavarotti did not feel comfortable singing the full, far more difficult version of this aria. On the CD recording, he just barely makes it, in the DVD, however, the visuals help him become somewhat more convincing, even though acting has never been a strong suit in Pavarotti's armoury of talents.

Having said all that, I have to say that Frederica von Stade is a wonderful Idamante, the hapless son of Idomeneo (I normally prefer this role to be sung by a second tenor). Hidegarde Behrens is really scary as the half demented Elettra, who has the hots for the Prince (Idamante). Her frizzy red wig is so perfect, and her first and final arias are sung with crazed intensity, while her voluptuous second aria just manages to convince (have heard better). It was pleasant to see an old trouper like John Alexander as Arbace. The only slightly disappointing vocal performance was surprisingly from Ileana Cortrubas as Idamante's love interest.

In spite of my reservations regarding Pavarotti singing Mozart, I nevertheless much enjoyed this production. It compares OK with three others I have on DVD.

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