Inspiring Conducting, Very Satisfying Performance
Nicholas A. Deutsch | New York, NY USA | 08/30/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The most beautiful & forward-looking of Mozart's "serious" Italian operas, "Idomeneo" is now available in a multitude of performances of all sorts of scale & length (Mozart didn't leave a definitive text). This 1991 one has been generally overlooked
or dismissed - unfairly, in my view, because I find it one of the most satisfying versions. It had the misfortune to come out around the time of the 1st recording on period instruments (the beautiful but overrated Gardiner) & to compete with reviewers' fond memories of Colin Davis's 1st Philips recording (1968) [George Shirley, Margherita Rinaldi, Pauline Tinsley, Ryland Davies]. (To complicate matters, there's also a Davis-led Italian radio broadcast with Nicolai Gedda, Heather Harper & Jessye Norman.)
But this is a superbly conducted version in its own right, much fuller in text than Davis's 1st recording (both in the main body of the recording & the appendices), which really makes a direct, vibrant impact as music drama. Davis knows his way around this score & also knows - not all conductors do - how to create the illusion that it is the singers, not the conductor, who are driving the drama onward. The highlight of the cast are the 3 American ladies: Barbara Hendricks (Ilia), Roberta Alexander (Elettra) & Susanne Mentzer (Idamante), each a highly individual & accomplished performer. But this performance is definitely more than the sum of its parts.
My 1st recommendation for "Idomeneo" is probably the new EMI version led by Charles Mackerras: it has the most complete text & the conducting has tremendous forward momentum without any sense of hurry; on the other hand, some people may not warm to Ian Bostridge's light-voiced, idiosyncratic reading of the title role, & choose to look elsewhere for a tenor with more weight, color & brilliance. Don't pass this Philips version by: it is a genuine experience under the inspired direction of a great Mozartean, & deserves to be heard."
The essence of opera seria
Nicholas A. Deutsch | 03/13/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Idomeneo was the major composition of 1781, commissioned for the Munich carnival in 1781. The influence of Gluck on Mozart is very evident in this opera seria. The Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra have done a very good job -the opera unfolds forward smoothly and the drama propels forward without interruption. The arias are particularly arresting, especially Electra's aria 'Oh smania! oh furie! oh disperata Elettra!' In short, this production captures fully the mythical spirit of of the opera."