20 Jan 2008


Idomeneo: Opera seria in three acts.

Music composed by W. A Mozart (arranged by Richard Strauss (1930)). Libretto by Abbate Giambattista Varesco after a French opera by Campra and Danchet. Revised German text by Lothar Wallenstein.

First Performance: 29 January 1781, Hoftheater, Munich

Strauss arrangement: 16 April 1931, Wiener Staatsoper, Vienna

Principal Characters
Idomeneo, King of Crete Tenor
Idamantes, his son Soprano
Ilia, Priamos's daughter Lyric Soprano
Ismene, priestess Dramatic Soprano
High Priest Bass
Arbaces Baritone
A Voice Bass

Setting: The isle of Crete after the Trojan war


Act I

Ilia, a Trojan prisoner in Crete, is in love with Idamante, son of Idomeneo, who, it seems, may have perished with the Greek fleet. Ilia imagines that the Greek princess Elettra may fare better with Idamante, who enters, bringing news of the sighting of the Greek fleet and the decision to release the Trojan prisoners, while he remains captive to the charms of Ilia. Elettra objects to this act of clemency, and Arbaces enters with the news that the fleet has sunk. Idomeneo, however, has survived, thanks to the vow he has made to Neptune to sacrifice the first living being he meets on his return. Idamante approaches him, neither of them recognising the other. When Idomeneo learns that the other is his son, he rushes away.

Act II

Idomeneo confides in Arbace, who suggests that Idamante should go away, escorting Elettra back to Argos, until some other solution may be found. As they are about to board ship, a storm arises and a sea- monster emerges. Idomeneo admits the vow he has made, but does not give the name of his son.


Ilia and Idamante are together in the palace gardens, joined there by Idomeneo and Elettra, all expressing their conflicting feelings. The sea-monster meanwhile has been causing devastation and Idomeneo admits to the High Priest of Neptune that the sacrificial victim should be his son Idamante. He, however, has killed the monster and now offers himself as a victim. Ilia tries to take his place, but the voice of Neptune bids Idomeneo abdicate in favour of his son, who should marry Ilia, a command that allows Elettra a final expression of jealousy and anger. Idomeneo is grateful for the rest that retirement will bring.

[Source: Naxos]