An excellent production of a Mozartian masterpiece
Idomeneo is not my favourite Mozart opera, but it is one of them as for me it has some of the beautiful music of any of Mozart's serious Italian operas. Of the productions I've seen of this opera, my personal favourite is the Ponnelle designed performance with Pavarotti, Von Stade, Cotrubas and Behrens, though this and the 1983 Langridge are definitely worth watching as well. For recordings, the John Elliot Gardiner recording was the most authentic, and the Levine/Domingo set is also beautifully performed even if there are some singers there that you wouldn't normally associate with Mozart.
Back to this production, it is excellent, with atmospheric settings and sumptuous costuming. The camera work is also impressive with no shots that come across as distracting or shots so far away you can't connect with the singers, and the picture quality apart from one or two fuzzy moments has more moments than not of clarity. Musically, the production is fantastic, while the orchestra is stylish and powerful, it is also one of the more authentic performances I've heard and seen. The chorus sing with good balance, tuning and careful diction, and they look as though they're involved. Arnold Ostman's conducting doesn't fall into the trap of being too broad and it never plods. There are some moments where Ostman does for me take things a tad too fast, especially Elettra's Tutte Nel Cor Vi Sento, but overall it was great.
Likewise with the performances. Stuart Kale vocally is more suited to Mozart than Pavarotti and Domingo(though both men did better than expected jobs in the role), and like Araiza, Langridge and Anthony Rolfe Johnson sings with just the right beautiful tone and agility. Idomeneo is by far the most difficult and most dramatic Mozart tenor role, and dramatically with a commanding and moving performance, Kale does very well meeting these demands. David Kuebler is equally impressive as Idamante, I had seen him before as Almaviva and find him more believable here, his high register is more musically used and he is suitably sympathetic at times here. Ann Christine Biel is a wonderful Ilia, I love how lyrical her voice is, and she also manages to sing and act with pathos. Anita Soldh is not as intense as Moser or as bonkers as Behrens but it is an intelligent and effective performance and her voice alongside Vaness' is one of the more beautiful ones for the role. Jan Erik Jakobssen excels as well in the difficult and potentially static role of Arbace.
The staging is very good, with Tutte Nel Cor Vi Sento appropriately dark, intense and atmospheric. Overall, excellent production if not quite my first choice. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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