Even though in recent years Idomeneo has been staged more frequently, this Mozart masterpiece can hardly be counted among the operas (the Da Ponte trilogy in primis) that made of the ...
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Even though in recent years Idomeneo has been staged more frequently, this Mozart masterpiece can hardly be counted among the operas (the Da Ponte trilogy in primis) that made of the Salzburg composer one of the greatest operatic composers of all times. Yet Idomeneo was, in its day, a revolutionary work, animated by music that appears remarkably innovative and profoundly theatrical. This double DVD set presents the Teatro San Carlo of Naples's staging, signed by Pier Luigi Pizzi, one of today's most creative directors. Marco Guidarini, on the podium, conducts a cast of international renown.
The staging may be inconsistent, but the music-making is just exquisite
Not the best production of one of Mozart's best operas and a few things didn't come as well as they could have done, but anything with Richard Croft or Marlis Petersen is worth a look and this Idomeneo certainly is worth a look. Visually, much of it is haunting if never beautiful(considering the concept of the production you'd hardly expect that quality though), but some of the set design is a bit barren and looked like a real obstacle to singers constantly climbing over it. The lighting is mostly atmospheric and the costumes while contemporary look decent at least especially Elettra's. The staging, where there is an admirable effort in focusing on the psychological side of the drama, I personally found inconsistent. There are parts that are very arresting and intense, like Idomeneo being pressured into revealing that the victim is Idamante. On the other hand, there are also others where that aspect to the drama was from personal view over-emphasised and verged into clichéd and overdone territory, especially Elettra's mad aria despite Petersen's incredibly vivid acting(at some points like the writhing in the mud I started to feel embarrassed for her). The chorus, who have a lot to do, sing very beautifully and act with commitment but could have done with at times better stage direction, when that applied it was a bit static and over-serious.
However despite how negative that all sounded the music making is exquisite, as it should be considering how wonderful the music itself is. The orchestra are beautifully balanced and play with refinement, precision and passion while Rene Jacobs' conducting has so much exciting style and he makes the music and drama come alive, not once rigid or too cultivated. Of the performances, Richard Croft and Marlis Petersen are the standouts, Croft sings with many nuances and the understated touch to his acting makes for a moving performance in the title role(his big aria Fuor Del Mar has plenty of fire though) and Petersen has a ball as Elettra, singing with agile plushness and her acting in her mad aria is enough to send chills up the spine(like when she pulls off her wig). Gaëlle Arquez deserves praise too especially from a vocal standpoint, loved the vibrancy to her sound and the amount of tone colour is a miracle in itself. Sophie Karthäuser is very charming as Ilia, and boasts a lovely feathery quality to her voice and good diction. Julian Behr makes a lot out of the minor but very important role of Arbace. Mirko Guadagnini and Luca Tittoro do well too. Overall, wasn't always crazy about the staging but the musical values are worth a waterfall of praises. 6.5/10 Bethany Cox
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