Argentina Mozart, Idomeneo: Soloists, Chorus and Orchestra of Teatro Colón. Conductor: Ira Levin , Teatro Colón , Buenos Aires . 11.7.2014. (JSJ)
Ilia: Verónica Cangemi / Marisú Pavón
Idomeneo: Richard Croft / Gust4avo López Manzitti
Idamante: Jurgita Adamonyté / Florencia achado
Elettra: Emma Bell / Macarena Valenzuela
Arbace: Santiago Ballerini
High Priest of Neptune: Iván Maier / Gabriel Centeno
Voice: Mario De Salvo / Cristian Maldonado
Director: Jorge Lavelli
Sets: Ricardo Sánchez Cuerda
Costumes: Francesco Zito
Lighting: Roberto Traferri and Jorge Lavelli
Chorus: Miguel Martínez
Interest was high locally for this new production of Idomeneo at the Teatro Colón. Besides being just its fourth production of the work, since it was premiered in 1963, it also marks the return to his native land after a lengthy absence of the now French director Jorge Lavelli.
Idomeneo – or in its full title Idomeneo, re di Creta – premiered just two days after Mozart’s 25 th birthday, and is regarded as the composer’s first mature opera. Set in Crete shortly after the end of the Trojan War (ca 1100-1200 BC) Ilia, daughter of the slain Priam is a prisoner, and in love with Idamante, son of Idomeneo. The returning Idomeneo is shipwrecked and for his survival promises Neptune he will sacrifice the first living creature he sees – which turns out to be Idamante. And meanwhile Elettra, daughter of Agamemnon – musically a forerunner to the Queen of the Night – is also in love with Idamante and jealous of Ilia.
Lavelli’s approach was minimalistic, with a sense of space and effects more suggestive rather than literal, and with mostly whites and blacks and other soft colours in the dress and settings. In general this worked well, such as in the first part of Act 3, where a sense of the garden was implied by willowy hanging fabrics, and it provided continuity between the scenes. However, less successful visually were the opening scene and the first part of Act 2, where fabric screens were used to isolate a part of the stage as a room, as the singers were not always visible, depending on where one was sitting. Moreover Ilia’s opening recitativ and aria were sung within one of these.
That said the Ilia of Verónica Cangemi was very much the star of the production, sung with brilliance and expression. Lighter voiced Lithuanian soprano Jurgita Adamonyté was a sensitive Idamante, and in the exchanges between the two lovers, for example in the Act 3 duet “ S’io non moro a questi accenti” , their voices blended exquisitely. British soprano Emma Bell was a powerful Elettra, with her final recitativ and aria “ Oh smania! oh furie!” attracting particularly enthusiastic applause. American tenor Richard Croft showed his musicality but lacked volume.
There were good interventions too from Santiago Ballerini as Idomeneo’s confidante Arbace, Iván Maier as the High Priest and Mario De Salvo as the Voice.
Ira Levin, making his second operatic appearance this year – as the orchestra’s invited principal director – once again provided a sound reading, with good balance and sound, and the chorus, under the direction of Miguel Martinez, were expressive.
Jonathan Spencer Jones