Saturday, May 29, 2010

At the Opera: Idomeno (4.5/5)

Idomeno (Paul Groves) in anguish. Photo Credit: © 2010 Michael Cooper

Idomeno is set after the fall of Troy and takes place on the island of Crete. While the people of Crete wait for King Idomeno to return, his son Idamante has fallen in love with the captive Trojan princess Ilia. Elettra, the princess of Argos, is mad with jealousy as she loves Idamante and planned to marry him. Meanwhile, Idomeno's ship is caught in a ferocious storm at sea; the god Neptune agrees to spare him in exchange for a human sacrifice: the first person he sees when he arrives in Crete. So naturally, who is the first person he sees? His son. Idomeno cannot go through with the sacrifice and tries to send his son away. Neptune becomes enraged and summons a monster to attack Crete. Eventually, Idamente slays the monster, but lots of people (and tiny, tiny babies!) are dead. Idamente and Idomeno say a tearful farewell as father prepares to sacrifice his son, but Ilia rushes in at the last minute and offers herself instead. The Deus Ex Machina chorus appears and declares Neptune is satisfied by the display of love (d'awwww). He orders Idomeno to step down as King and give the throne to Idamante and his new bride Ilia. Everyone is happy except Elettra who curses their happiness and kills herself.

This was a great and powerful opera performance. I thought the four leads were magnificent, but my absolute favourite was Elettra.

Elettra (Tamara Wilson) plans to seduce Idamante. Photo Credit: © 2010 Michael Cooper

How can you not love a girl who smears blood on her face, calls on the gods to perform her vengeance, laughs maniacally and then rolls around on stage? And later, she tosses her red leather gloves aside and fixes her make-up while planning her seduction. She's beyond awesome.

As well, the role of Idamente is often played by a woman since it was written for a castrato. So there were three wonderfully powerful female leads and when they all sang together, it was shiver-inducing.

Idomeneo, re di Creta by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
performed by the Canadian Opera Company at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto.
May 9 to 29, 2010.

Idomeneo: Paul Groves
Idamante: Krisztina Szabò
Ilia: Isabel Bayrakdarian
Elettra: Tamara Wilson
Arbace: Michael Colvin

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