The Metropolitan Opera – Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s production of Mozart’s Idomeneo – Michael Spyres, Kate Lindsey, Ying Fang, Federica Lombardi, Paolo Fanale, Issachah Savage; conducted by Manfred Honeck

Idomeneo, K366 – Dramma per musica in three Acts to a libretto by Giovanni Battista Varesco after Antoine Dachet’s Idomenée [sung in Italian, with Met Titles in English, German, Spanish and Italian]

Idomeneo – Michael Spyres
Idamante – Kate Lindsey
Ilia – Ying Fang
Elettra – Federica Lombardi
Arabace – Paolo Fanale
High Priest – Issachah Savage
Women of Crete – Amani Cole-Felder, Cierra Byrd
Trojan Soldiers – Manase Latu, Vladyslav Buialskyi
Voice of Neptune – Scott Conner

The Metropolitan Opera Chorus
Orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera [Dimitri Dover harpsichord), Kari Jane Docter (cello)]
Manfred Honeck

Jean-Pierre Ponnelle – Production, Set & Costume Designer
Gil Wechsler – Lighting
Daniel Rigazzi – Revival Stage Director

3 of 5 stars

Reviewed by: Susan Stempleski

Reviewed: 28 September, 2022
Venue: Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, New York City

Last seen in 2017, the Metropolitan Opera’s 1982 production of Idomeneo, the opera that revealed the twenty-five-year old Mozart’s genius, has returned for its eighth revival, and Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s stylish neoclassical staging looks as beautiful as ever.

Making an impressive company debut, Manfred Honeck elicits a highly polished and poignant account from the orchestra, chorus, and superb cast. Only twenty-four hours after delivering a spectacular opening night performance of Cherubini’s Medea, the company once again shows itself off at its very best.

Making his Met stage production debut – he appeared in a trio of concert performances of The Damnation of Faust in 2020 – Michael Spyres gives a robust portrayal of the title character, the ancient King of Crete whose ship, on its way home after the Trojan War, is saved in a storm by Neptune, who in turn asks the King to sacrifice the first person he meets on shore, who turns out to be his son, Idamante. Spyres captures all the nobility and complexities of a father who has inadvertently willed the death of his own child. His singing is its most impressive and intense in his Act Two ‘Fuor del mar’, in which, though no longer at sea, he wonders if he is as close to disaster as when he was shipwrecked. His powerful, wide-ranging tenor tackles all the coloratura in the showpiece aria with aplomb and fully ornaments the recapitulation.  

As Ilia, the Trojan princess who falls in love with Idamante, after she has been taken as prisoner by the Cretans, Ying Fang is a standout, her bright lyric soprano overflowing with grace and warmth. In the trouser role of Idamante, Kate Lindsey’s mezzo-soprano is somber, smokey, and secure. As the Greek princess Elettra, who is also in love with Idamante and whose narcissistic self-delusion blossoms into full-blown madness when she realizes she is losing him to IIia, soprano Federica Lombardi triumphs in her character’s villainy, both vocally and dramatically.

Paolo Fanale endows Arbace, Idomeneo’s confidant, with an amiable character, which his sweet-toned tenor manages to reveal in his Act Two aria, ‘Se il tuo duol’, amidst the overactive strings which accompany him. In contrast, as the High Priest, Isaachah Savage uses his gritty, more forceful tenor to provide some of the most dramatic and suspenseful moments of the night as he reprimands Idomeneo for abandoning his duty.

The great Met Chorus performs with full-bodied sound and eloquence, but it is the splendor of the soloists’ singing and the force of their characterizations that make this Idomeneo revival one of the ‘must-sees’ of this Met season.Further performances on October 1 (matinee), 6,  9, 14 & 20.

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