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Subject: FT review of Met 'Idomeneo'
From: janosG <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:janosG <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 8 Mar 2017 22:22:24 -0800

text/plain (35 lines)

Idomeneo at the Met: compelling cast lift an ageing staging
Matthew Polenzani and Alice Coote led a mostly inspired ensemble as Mozart’s opera returned to New York

By Martin Bernheimer

Mozart wrote Idomeneo in 1781. The Met caught up with this sprawling masterpiece, however, only in 1982. That production, lovingly created by the late Jean-Pierre Ponnelle and last seen in 2002, remains the final word on the opera as far as America’s leading company is concerned.

There may be other ways to revitalise the inherent musical and theatrical formulas, but we have not seen them in this context. The current revival, directed by David Kneuss and sparsely attended on Monday, represents only the company’s 68th attempt, and the Baroque-themed proceedings look much as they did when they were new. They do not always sound that way, however.

Ponnelle’s fractured-temple designs and illustrative scrims continue to provide a stately, imaginative frame for the inaction. They also mesh comfortably with the musical values as projected, with equal dramatic urgency and poetic repose, by James Levine.

The dauntless maestro, now music-director emeritus and confined to a wheelchair, has met this challenge here 45 times. Although his basic tempi tend to be leisurely, they never seem to drag.

For this wonder, the man on the podium must share credit with a mostly inspired cast. “Cast” actually may be the wrong word. Try “ensemble”.

Matthew Polenzani emerges utterly compelling in the royal title-role, his tenor equally persuasive in heroic outburst and introspective reflection. Alice Coote exudes noble passion and dignity in the great Hosenrolle platitudes of Idamante. Nadine Sierra may blur some of the unbridled intensities of sweet Ilia, but she offers theatrical compensation for any vocal blemishes. Elza van den Heever lavishes broad bravado on the mean smirks of Elettra, and makes the quasi-devil sing like a quasi-goddess. Replacing Alan Opie, reportedly indisposed, Gregory Schmidt strides imposingly through the conniving platitudes of Arbace.
[Polenzani, Elza and Nadine are all Merola/Adler alumni - JG]
Incidental intelligence: an official press release promised that the evening would be shortened with the insertion of only one intermission. Nothing of the kind actually happened. The performance, including two lengthy breaks, began at 7.30pm and ended at 11.40pm. Those who stayed to the end applauded warmly.
To March 25,

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