Cher Public

Broadcast: Idomeneo

Here’s where the parterriani meet to discuss tonight’s season premiere of Idomeneo at 7:25 PM. (Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera)

  • grimoaldo2

    Oh no, a monster!

  • Rowna Sutin

    My bedtime arrives.

  • Kaziranga

    FWIW this is my first Idomeneo. I generally like Mozart operas but this one is not grabbing me. Maybe my mood about the national and international situation is influencing my willingness to just “enjoy”. While I find much to “enjoy” here, I also feel like I could stop at any point without much regret. Thanks to all for helping me stay with this. Clearly others are hearing things I’m not.

    • grimoaldo2

      Maybe your expectations of what you are going to hear in a Mozart opera are getting in the way of your enjoyment here.
      “Idomeneo” and “La Clemenza di Tito” are opera seria, unlike his more famous pieces Figaro, Don G and Cosi, opera buffa, and Seraglio and the Magic Flute, singspiels. Opera seria, with a leading role for a castrato and emphasis on solo arias, stories taken mostly from classical antiquity, were upper class entertainment and already somewhat old-fashioned in Mozart’s day. I would recommend listening to the opera several times, I bet it will grow on you, just don’t expect anything along the lines of his comic operas.
      I think tonight’s is a really nice performance.

      • Kaziranga

        Well as is so typical here I always learn so much. Alas often it is about how much I still don’t know. Thanks Grimoaldo2 for the encouragement. I think I thought I knew what opera seria was and now realize I barely had a clue.

    • Camille

      It may take you some time to be able to get into it. It did for me, It also helps a LOT to see this beautiful production so perhaps give some thought to seeing the HD at the end of the run. There is another Listen Live and a Toll Brothers broadcast yet, before that HD, and it may help you to get a hold on this work, which is a kind of summa of the opera seria type. anyway, hoping that helps.

      • Kaziranga

        Your comments always help me Camille. A bit of a review of opera seria probably won’t hurt either. Thanks.

        • Camille

          No, reading a book about opera seria, should you find one readily, will only serve to murk up the waters even further.

          What I gingerly suggest is this: just GO to the HD and see the beautiful production and which will provide you the essential benefit of the translation on screen. It’s not an easy work and bears little resemblance to his Da Ponte comedies — if those are your zone of familiarity — but it IS a sterling example of this style of opera and, to me, a stupefying achievement for a horny guy in his mid-twenties. One supposes that his own father/son relationship was worked through rather thoroughly by this libretto as well, considering Leopold’s gigantor shadow.

          Just relax with it and try to enjoy it, if you will or have the time. There is yet another Listen Live later on this month so you’ve got another free listen before you have to decide. And then, listen again to the HD broadcast and see if you like it enough to attend the Repetition. Opera seria, like Rome, wasn’t built in a day.

    • Rudolf

      Repeated listening will probably change your mind. Don’t “judge” now. I encountered many operas which did not grab me the first time I heard them. But the “steady drop” and not shying away from another attempt gradually changed my opinion.
      :-) https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/716ceab5c44bdc9628045e45f805349fce7273a2066a0b62c6e076b7f720359f.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e1f26e3735c1814428aa0c152908e337953df256da36dabb5a58d7304b6b24aa.jpg

  • grimoaldo2

    Lovely singing and playing of “Zeffiretti lusinghieri”

  • swordsnsolvers

    My big question is whether we will get to hear the full, incredibly florid version of ‘Torna la pace al core’ just before the choral finale. A bravura showpiece by the tenor that Pavarotti did in the 80s, but which I don’t think got included in recent Met performances. Something tells me we won’t, but a guy can dream.

  • Camille

    I have no idea what he was doing as I was in the wrong one searching and sesrching and found it after it was done after the next recitativo. Next time. Oh thank god that Arbace’s aria was cut.

  • Camille

    Such a besutiful death march!

  • Camille

    I can never forget the impact this had seeing it only two weeks after the 9/11. It really spoke volumes to me and have never forgotten. Mozart managed to convey this kind of sense of horror in only his mid-twenties. Guess that is what one calls a genius.

    • Bill

      Take on Friday’s Idomeneo (3/10) Unusually empty house for a Friday evening with multitudes of empty seats in the Orchestra with several hundred patrons leaving the house after the first act and multitudes sweeping out after the second act. The performance started at 7:30 and the music stopped at 11:45 with two ridiculously long intermissions.
      The Ponnelle production from 1982 has held up very well, it is smart and stylish, modern yet classic. Levine seemed more animated than the last several years. He utilizes a full Mozart
      orchestra (as did Krips, Boehm, von Karajan, Furtwaengler etc) and emphasizes the sonorities of the ensemble (though Idomeneo is largely individual arias) with leisurely tempi.
      Levine has always conducted Mozart well and this evening
      the performance seemed to be well rehearsed.
      For me none of the singers were totally ideal vocally,
      but the surprise was Elza van den Heever as Elettra whose
      rather even voice displayed considerable beauty and a feeling for Mozartian style. Nadine Sierra is graceful and attractive on the stage and I found her voice also attractive
      though a bit grainy in the upper middle passages --
      Polenzani is not a truly ideal Mozartian tenor -- there is some difficulty in the Idomeneo’s florid passages and I think he would be more effective in a smaller opera house -- not that he could not be heard but there was a decided contrast in the beauty of his voice when he was singing
      softly (mellow tones) and when he was pushing.
      I have never liked Alice Coote particularly and her performance as Idamante did not change my mind -- occasionally her voice flies off the radar -- the Mozartian line is not there, sometimes she seemed short of breath -- and she did not always modulate appropriately in the ensembles -- it is not that she cannot
      produce dulcet tones -- they are often there but not consistently. Alan Opie as Arbace was a bit of an embarrassment -- his florid aria very labored. Neptune (Eric Owens) has little to sing but I would prefer a more solid bass sound which Owens clearly these days does not have at his disposal. As said Levine lavished his attention on the orchestra (he rarely looked up at the singers) and the orchestra sparkled. Applause was short after the performance but it was quite late -- warm applause for Levine and perhaps thereafter the most for Polenzani and van den Heever among the singers but a duration of some 3 1/2 minutes in all before the lights came up with many of those few who had remained for the third act fleeing as soon as the last note of the opera resounded. Levine was all smiles which was a joy to see. .

      l.

      • PCally

        I thought van den Heever was incredible, the best in this role I’ve seen live and I had been totally unimpressed with her met performances prior to this. I agree with most of what you say except that I don’t quite dislike Coote to the same to extent and Polenzani gave me a slightly more positive impression. I think Mozart is ideal for him, I just think he’s a bit older than he used to be and has been singing some heavier things.

        I don’t get Eric Owens at all.

        • Bill

          PCally -- I surely agree with you that
          van den Heever was the great positive surprise based upon the limited number of times I had heard her at the Met. She also had a success as Ellen in Peter Grimes recently in Vienna (with Gould who is doing double duty now in Europe taking over some of Botha’s scheduled performances as well as his own and Gould had a personal triumph as Grimes) van den Heever also acted well (one recalls Behrens’ over the top acting in the new production perhaps compensating for the fact that some of Behren’s singing was
          occasionally wretched as she was surely not a Mozartian soprano to begin with)

          I appreciated Polenzani -- but some of the florid music he must sing tripped hjm up -- he had some beautiful passages particularly when singing softly.

          The Kaspar Holten production in Vienna a couple of years back was not a success.
          The conducting of Christoph Eschenbach languished. Michael Schade who some years earlier would have been ideal was not -- the voice a bit unsteady. A shining lightt was the wonderful Margarita Gritskova as Idamante -- one of the next great Mezzos.
          The other singers Maria Bentsson and Chen Reiss were good. An earlier previous production in Vienna in 1971 had a slightly word and faded voiced but still radiant Lisa della Casa as Ilia and a magnificent Sena Jurinac as Elettra but a tenor as Idamante (Werner Krenn) with Kmennt in the title role. The next new production had Schreier, later Domingo.

          It is unlikely that the Met will repeat Idomeneo much after Levine is no longer there to caress the orchestra given that attendance for this series of performances so far has been so dismal -- so for those who love Mozart, one should make an attempt to go see it now during this run.
          Take a standing ticket -- last night the ushers at the Met actually beckoned the standees to go take a seat and as the lights were going down at the start of the opera
          scores of patrons who had seats moved
          further up to vacant seats -- never saw anything like it.

          .

      • grimoaldo2

        ” Unusually empty house for a Friday evening with multitudes of empty seats in the Orchestra ”

        Yes, I was looking online at the seating plans and it was quite shocking to see how few seats were taken for performances of this opera. Werther also appears to be selling very badly.
        How the Met can go on like this I do not know, they are obviously supplying way more performances than there is demand for. The Opera Bastille in Paris, for instance, has been doing no opera for about a month except for “Carmen”. The Met does eight operas a week in that huge place, I would have thought it was a bit depressing both for the artists and audiences to turn up to half-empty houses.
        There has been that series “Can the Met be saved?” by Dawn Fatale sitting on this site for three years now but they show no sign of attempting a rethink.
        It isn’t something for me to worry about, I suppose.

        • Bill

          It’s hard for the Met to break some long term traditions.  It is a repertoire houseand that means four or five different operas per week.  If they were like Milanor Paris as you mention and did only one opera per month it would be wretchedfor tourists to NY who like opera and would prefer to attend several performances duringa week’s visit or something like that. Subscribers expect to see no repetitions of operas in a single season and often prefer notto have an individual opera in two consecutive seasons on their subscriptions even if the cast is different Next season the Met is performing I think only 23 different operas over a long period from lateSeptember until May -- that means often 10-17 repetitions of the same opera (though sometimeswith different casts throughout the season).   A number of truly important singers seem not tobe on the 2017-18 roster though there may currently be only a handful or two of singers aroundwho definitely, when performing, would augment the box office take for their names alone.Maybe there are simply too many performances of individual operas in a season --  if one seesone Turandot with a mediocre cast or conductor, one is not likely to go again for a year or more.Frankly, from what I have seen for 2017-18, though I live on the West Side of NYC, there is quite a bit of the repertoire where I do not feel I need to view --  in part as lately there has been solittle of the German repertoire represented.   I have to say also that the Met does not seem to lureso many great conductors (other than Levine) as it used to --  lots of conducting mediocrity particularly for the bel canto operas which the Met seems to favor more and more -- I guess they are cheaper toproduce, I guess more and more people in the 30 mile radius of NYC opt more frequently to go to movietheaters to see the Met’s productions  -- it is cheaper, not as much hassle getting into the cityand one does not have major parking problems, and one is not expected to dress up. If I were living in Vienna for example, rather than NYC, I would go to the opera more frequently asthey do something like 53 different operas per season (beginning of Sept to June 30) so there is more variety with which to choose  --   and the seats are 98-99 percent sold out (standing room in Viennais variable in the percent sold --  a starry cast can have all 560 standing places completely sold out,but sometimes it is only 1/3 full.   The Met standing areas are sometimes completely vacant but the standing ticket prices are exceptionally high. But all this has been re-hashed again and again.   I think a total shakeup of the manner ofpresentation of operas at the Met would also shake loose a great many of the subscribers whopay for their tickets many months before a performance is scheduled.    In the last several yearspractically no performances at the Met are 100 percent sold out any longer --  there can bemany reasons (price of tickets included)  -- The intermissions at the Met are much too long  -- it lengthens the evening.  I cannot imagine whyin the recently badly attended Idomeneo why the intermissions seem to last as long as theacts themselves --

          • I’ve said this before but the Met running times are still based on this idea that people work 9-5 jobs and can get home from an opera after midnight and go to work the next morning. For most people in the metro area it’s no longer the case — jobs are demanding more off-the-clock hours, longer days, and I know that I could never see a four hour opera and be functional the next day at work.

            • Lohenfal

              Ivy, the Met running times, as well as many other aspects of their operation, are based on outmoded ideas and have little connection with current realities. They think that everyone lives in Manhattan and has a short trip to the opera house. Well, that may have been true in 1900 but not in 2017. What happened to the Sunday matinees they were thinking about? Might not that accomplish more than the 6 evening performances which are rapidly failing, even the Friday and Saturday nights?

              As far as being functional, I’m never functional after watching a four hour opera. Even though I no longer work, I still opt for the Saturday matinees. That way, I can spend the rest of the day traveling home and recovering.

          • PCally

            Bill-I your comment about conductors comment rather odd. Surely there have recently been more major conductors at the met then there ever was when Levine during Levines most active years. Other than kleibers handful of seasons at the end of the 1980s I can’t think of a single major conductor (other than gergieve who actually had a title) who appeared regularly while Levine was as prominent as he was. William Christie, Simon rattle,

            • Bill

              PCally -- you are absolutely correct -- Levine basically took the operas he wanted to conduct leaving the scraps for other conductors. And I thought, for example,
              the new Tristan under Rattle was splendidly conducted -- with Levine in precarious health
              other good conductors must be found for the works he nominally would have wanted to conduct. I think the long series of
              performances of a single opera may limit
              the fleet of available conductors as most of the more famous ones have other permanent engagements with symphony orchestras
              in the USA and also across Europe -- they may be able to spare three weeks for rehearsals and performances but not two months for rehearsing a new production and then conduct 10 or more subsequent
              performances.
              I am realistic and do not expect Salzburg Festival quality performances week in and out at the Met (and probably not even at Salzburg any more, alas) but perhaps I have been around too long, but in the last seasons at the Met, the truly great performances have been few and far between. There have been good conductors (as the ones you cite) but they
              pop in and out at the Met. I do not know why but I seem to come home from the Met
              these last years more disappointed than
              I used to be in the past. I never found
              Gergiev such a compelling conductor but he did introduce a few Russian works at the Met that we probably would not have seen had he not been under contract there. .

          • Lohenfal

            Bill, your observations on the Met’s current situation are absolutely correct. I have a full subscription, and it took some ingenuity to assemble a list of operas which appealed to me. They spend far too much time on a few standards and hardly any time on all sorts of other works which would create more variety. Were it not for the exchange privileges which they now offer, I would’ve given up the subscription some time ago. As things are now going, however, I feel that some sort of major shakeup will be needed in the very near future.

            I am going to see Idomeneo, poorly attended as it may be. The piece itself, the casting and Levine are more than sufficient for me, if not for others in the Met audience.

      • Camille

        Okay, message received. Can’t make it either this coming Monday or Friday so I’d best try to find time somehow as it will be over soon and who knows when it will return, ’tis true.

        Yes, one may hear from the applause over the transmission that attendance is scarce as it hardly sounded like applause at the MET.

        Your views on singers are more or less the same as mine excepting that I have liked the Ilia more in what I’ve heard her in up to now.

        Thanks for the head up, Bill.

  • grimoaldo2

    This is like the statue in Don Giovanni, a statue speaking, with trombones, reserved in Mozart’s time for supernatural effects.

  • QuantoPainyFakor

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  • grimoaldo2

    Very good “D’Oreste, d’Ajace” and a big ovation.

  • grimoaldo2

    A really good performance of a sublime opera. I totally enjoyed it, thank you Met Opera and all involved for sharing such a treat!

  • Kaziranga

    And thanks to Parterre Box and the participants in this discussion for creating an opportunity for me to find beauty and grace in a world sadly lacking in both at the moment.