Mozart’s operatic retelling of this ancient story is full of powerful emotions, as people struggle to do what they are bound to by duty over what their own hearts desire.
Opera in 3 acts
Sung in Italian
About 2 hours 45 min + intervals
Island of Crete, shortly after the Trojan War. Ilia, daughter of the defeated Trojan King Priam, has been taken to Crete after the war. She loves Prince Idamante, son of the Cretan King Idomeneo, but hesitates to acknowledge her love. Idamante frees the Trojan prisoners in a gesture of good will. He tells Ilia, who is rejecting his love, that it is not his fault that their fathers were enemies. Trojans and Cretans together welcome the return of peace, but Electra, daughter of the Greek King Agamemnon, is jealous of Ilia and does not approve of Idamante's clemency toward the enemy prisoners. Arbace, the king's confidant, brings news that Idomeneo has been lost at sea while returning to Crete from Troy. Electra, fearing that Ilia, a Trojan, will soon become Queen of Crete, feels the furies of the underworld rise up in her heart (aria: "Tutte nel cor vi sento, furie del crudo averno" – "I feel you all in my heart, furies of the cruel underworld").
Idomeneo is saved by Neptune (god of the sea) and is washed up on a Cretan beach. There he recalls the vow he made to Neptune: to sacrifice, if he should arrive safely on land, the first living creature he should meet. Idamante approaches him, but because the two have not seen each other for a long time, recognition is difficult. When Idomeneo finally realizes the youth that he must sacrifice for the sake of his vow is his own child, he orders Idamante never to seek him out again. Grief-stricken by his father's rejection, Idamante runs off. Cretan troops disembarking from Idomeneo's ship are met by their wives, and all praise Neptune.
Tatyana is about to go to bed but she is restless and cannot sleep. She asks her nurse Filippyevna to tell her about her youth and love life. Tatyana confesses to being in love with Onegin. When she’s on her own, she pours her emotions into a letter addressed to Onegin. A shepherd’s pipe is heard at dawn. When Filippyevna comes to wake Tatyana she desperately asks her to send her grandson to deliver the letter to Onegin.
At the king's palace, Idomeneo seeks counsel from Arbace, who says another victim could be sacrificed if Idamante were sent into exile. Idomeneo orders his son to escort Electra to her home, Argos. Idomeneo's kind words to Ilia move her to declare that since she has lost everything, he will be her father and Crete her country. As she leaves, Idomeneo realizes that sending Idamante into exile has cost Ilia her happiness as well as his own. Electra welcomes the idea of going to Argos with Idamante.
At the port of Sidon (a fictional city of Crete), Idomeneo bids his son farewell and urges him to learn the art of ruling while he is away. Before the ship can sail, however, a storm breaks out, and a sea serpent appears. Recognizing it as a messenger from Neptune, the king offers himself as atonement for having violated his vow to the god.
In the royal garden, Ilia asks the breezes to carry her love to Idamante, who appears, explaining that he must go to fight the serpent. When he says he would rather die than suffer the torments of his rejected love, Ilia confesses her love. They are surprised by Electra and Idomeneo. When Idamante asks his father why he sends him away, Idomeneo can only reply that the youth must leave. Ilia asks for consolation from Electra, who is preoccupied with revenge. Arbace comes with news that the people, led by the High Priest of Neptune, are clamoring for Idomeneo. The High Priest tells the king of the destruction caused by Neptune's monster, urging Idomeneo to reveal the name of the person whose sacrifice is demanded by the god. When the king confesses that his own son is the victim, the populace is horrified.
Outside the temple, the king and High Priest join Neptune's priests in prayer that the god may be appeased. Arbace brings news that Idamante has killed the monster. As Idomeneo fears new reprisals from Neptune, Idamante enters in sacrificial robes, saying he understands his father's torment and is ready to die. After an agonizing farewell, Idomeneo is about to sacrifice his son when Ilia intervenes, offering her own life instead. The Voice of Neptune is heard. Idomeneo must yield the throne to Ilia and Idamante. Everyone is relieved except Electra, who longs for her own death. Idomeneo presents Idamante and his bride as the new rulers. The people call upon the god of love and marriage to bless the royal pair and bring peace.
Ilia – Soprano (lyric coloratura)
Daughter of King Priam of Troy
Idomeneo (Idomeneus) - Tenor (lyric/spinto)
King of Crete
Idamante (Idamantes) - Tenor/Mezzo-soprano/Countertenor (lyric)
Son of Idomeneo
Elettra (Electra) – Soprano (dramatic coloratura)
Princess of Argos, daughter of King Agamemnon
Arbace (Arbaces) – Tenor
High priest of Neptune – Tenor
The voice of the Oracle of Neptune – Bass
Two Cretan women – Soprano/Mezzo-soprano
Two Trojans - Tenor and Bass
Place of birth: Salzburg, Austria
Place of death: Vienna, Austria
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was an Austrian composer widely known as one of the greatest composers of all time. He is the the archetype of the classical period together with his contemporaries Haydn and Beethoven. He was a versatile composer writing operas, symphonies, chamber music, piano works, concertos and much more. In his short life he wrote more than 600 works.
Mozart began playing the harpsichord at the age of three and started composing at the age of five. During his childhood he went on tour with his sister, who was also a child prodigy, and his father, Leopold, performing in Europe.
He married into the Weber family. Together with his wife Constanze they had six children of whom two survived infancy.
In 1781 Mozart moved from Salzburg to Vienna. The last 10 years of his life were very productive. His most popular operas; Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte and Die Zauberflöte were all written during this period. The three first are also known as the “Da Ponte” operas with reference to the librettist.
“What's even worse than a flute? - Two flutes!“
“The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.“
Mozart had lots of pet animals and was very fond of scatological humour.
Most prominent operas
Bastien und Bastienne 1768
Lucio Silla 1772
La finta giardiniera 1774
Die Entführung aus dem Serail 1782
Der Schauspieldirektor 1786
Le nozze di Figaro 1786
Don Giovanni 1787
Così fan tutte 1789
Die Zauberflöte 1791
La clemenza di Tito 1791
The libretto for Mozart's Idomeneo was adapted by Giambattista Varesco from a French text by Antoine Danchet.
2+1, 2, 2, 2 - 4, 2, 3, 0
timp, strings, basso continuo
Idomeneo premiered at the Cuvilliés Theatre, Munich, in 1781.
Aria - Padre, germani, addio! (Ilia)
Aria – Tutte nel cor vi sento (Elettra)
Aria – Vedrommi intorno (Idomeneo)
Aria - Fuor del mar (Idomeneo)
Aria – Solitudini amiche... Zeffiretti lusinghieri (Ilia)
Aria – Oh Smania! Oh Furie!.. D'Oreste, d'Aiace (Elettra)