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Mozart: Idomeneo / Levine, Domingo, Bartoli, Vaness

Release Date: 10/22/1996 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 447737   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Carol VanessFrank LopardoCecilia BartoliThomas Hampson,   ... 
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera ChorusMetropolitan Opera Orchestra
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

After Gardiner's lithe, slimline Idomeneo, which understandably carried nearly everything before it, we are back to a 'traditional' reading, with a big orchestra and a cast starry enough to make the Golden Horseshoe thoroughly happy. Any drowsy patricians there would certainly be wakened by the lusty singing of the Met chorus — admirable in the scenes of alarm (to which Levine brings a stirring sense of dramatic urgency) but elsewhere suggesting that Crete was grossly overpopulated. That apart, there can be little question that this must be the most recommendable recording for those not wanting a period-instrument 'authentic' version.

First, however, a word of explanation is needed, in view of the great divergences among
Read more current recordings of the opera, to clarify . what this consists of. It is more or less the Munich first performance version: we get both arias for Arbace , particularly welcome in view of Thomas Hamp son's fine singing), Idamante's acceptance of death "No, la morte" and Elettra's final venomous "D'Oreste, d'Aiace", but not Idomeneo's "Torna la pace" and only the shorter version of his "Fuor del mar" (with a changed ending) — a pity, since Domingo treats it not just as a display of bravura but with sensitivity. The nick-of-time pardon by the oracle (Bryn Terfel, with just two dozen bars) is the second-shortest of Mozart's four versions, accompanied only by horns and trombones (which appear nowhere else in the work). Recitatives are given almost complete, and though words are most expressively coloured throughout, this results in many recitatives almost turning into ariosos (unlike the Gardiner version's more flowing pace); they are supported by a somewhat florid harpsichord continuo. Appoggiaturas are applied, if not very consistently, but only one artist, Heidi Grant Murphy, ventures to ornament an aria, in the reprise section of "Se il padre perdei".

Murphy is in any case one of the delights of this set. Her Ilia is a gentle, youthful, sweet-voiced ingenue; her fioriture in "Zeffiretti" are sung with delicious purity and clarity. When I first heard that Cecilia Bartoli had been cast as Idamante, I had had doubts about her sounding too feminine and staying on the surface of the role. I confess to being wrong on both counts: she is utterly convincing and deeply involved in every nuance of the character's emotions, and her "No, la morte" is memorable. Carol Vaness may be forgiven for a rather screamy "D'Oreste, d'Aiace" — this is, after all, a character at the limits of desperation and frustration — but her earlier "Tutto nel cor" shows the right bitterness and fury, and she persuasively softens her tone when Elettra feels that fate seems to be favouring her. As Idomeneo, Placido Domingo gives a reading of the nobility and intelligence we might expect from him, one which makes him an outstanding interpreter of the role.

Aided by a well-judged production that successfully conveys the various perspectives in the opera — and makes only one misjudgement, that of not linking the Act 2 trio to the preceding recitative — James Levine presides over a coherently planned performance satisfying both from the dramatic and the lyrical viewpoints. (I seem to recognize the English translation, though it's not credited.)

-- Gramophone [1/1997]
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Works on This Recording

Idomeneo, K 366 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Carol Vaness (Soprano), Frank Lopardo (Tenor), Cecilia Bartoli (Mezzo Soprano),
Thomas Hampson (Baritone), Bryn Terfel (Bass Baritone), Heidi Grant Murphy (Mezzo Soprano),
Placido Domingo (Tenor)
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1781; Munich, Germany 
Language: Italian 

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