Beyond the sea

Jonas Kaufmann has been absent from the US for quite a while, but he’s scheduled to return on the final day of 2017 for the Met’s new/old production of Puccini’s Tosca. In the meantime, previewing Monday’s Met season premiere, “Trove Thursday” presents Mozart’s Idomeneo with the superstar tenor in the title role. 

Mozart played an important part in Kaufmann’s early career. In the late 1990s he sang Ferrando in Così Fan Tutte at the Piccola Scala, and Idomeneo (in which he sings the original florid version of “Fuor del mar”) and Tito eventually followed.

Following his debut run at the Met as Alfredo in La Traviata, the next time I heard Kaufmann there was as Tamino in Die Zauberflöte in October 2006 and he was marvelous—lyrical yet heroic—but I suspect it was one of his final performances in a Mozart role.

This live recording (not in the best sound) also features the much underrated Slovak soprano Luba Orgonasova as Elettra. Though this performance might not show her at her best, her gleaming voice was especially thrilling in Mozart, particularly her fierce Aspasia in Graham Vick’s Mitridate at Covent Garden (where it is being revived later this season) and her Konstanze in John Eliot Gardiner’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail.

After an absence of more than a decade, Idomeneo returns to the Met on March 6 in the 35-year-old production by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle; at its premiere (I was there) the cast included Ileana Cotrubas, Hildegard Behrens, Frederica von Stade and Luciano Pavarotti. Monday’s revival features Nadine Sierra, Elza van den Heever, Alice Coote and Matthew Polenzani. Let’s hope it can begin to compare to the superb concert performance led by René Jacobs heard at Alice Tully Hall during last summer’s Mostly Mozart Festival.

Mozart: Idomeneo
12 March 2003

Ilia: Malin Hartelius
Elettra: Luba Orgonasova
Idamante: Liliana Nikiteanu
Idomeneo: Jonas Kaufmann
Arbace: Miroslav Christoff
La Voce: Giuseppe Scorsin

Conductor: Christoph von Dohnanyi

This week’s offering can be downloaded via the audio player included on this page. Just click on the icon of a square with an arrow pointing downward and the resulting mp3 file will appear in your download directory.

In addition, Idomeneo, last week’s Giulio Cesare and nearly 60 other “Trove Thursday” podcasts are available from iTunes (for free!) or via any RSS reader.