Mozart's first operatic masterpiece returns to the Met in the classic Jean-Pierre Ponnelle production, conducted by Music Director James Levine. The superb ensemble includes Matthew Polenzani as the king torn by a rash vow; mezzo-soprano Alice Coote in the trouser role of his noble son Idamante; soprano Nadine Sierra as Ilia; and soprano Elza van den Heever as the volatile Elettra, who loves Idamante to the bounds of madness.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791) was the son of a Salzburg court musician who exhibited him as a musical prodigy throughout Europe. His achievements in opera, in terms of beauty, vocal challenge, and dramatic insight, remain unsurpassed. Giovanni Battista Varesco (1735–1805) was a poet and the court chaplain of the Principality of Salzburg, Mozart’s place of employment at the time of Idomeneo.
The opera is set on the island of Crete in the aftermath of the Trojan War. The tales of this time have provided fertile grounds for creators of opera, from Monteverdi (Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria, 1640) to Berlioz (Les Troyens, 1863), to Richard Strauss (Die Ägyptische Helena, 1928), to Martin David Levy (Mourning Becomes Electra, 1967). The era is evocative, reflecting the confusion of a post-traumatic historical moment.