Saturday, April 9, 2011

Mozart - Idomeneo - Boehm, Staatskapelle Dresden







Mozart wrote Idomeneo in Munich during 1780-1, with the heroic role of Idamantes as a soprano castrato. He later expressed the intention of revising it, "more in the French manner", with a tenor Idamantes (the French did not countenance castratos) and with Idomeneus played by a bass. But the closest he got to doing that—since the opera was never staged again in his lifetime—was to organize a concert performance, mainly by amateurs, in Vienna in 1786; there, it seems, Idamantes was sung by a tenor, but we do not know much else about that performance except, probably, that the minor role of Arbaces was image dropped altogether. Mozart wrote for the tenor Idamantes a big aria in the new, popular rondo form, with obbligato violin, replaced the twosoprano duet by a soprano-tenor one, and made some adjustments in the other ensembles. To regard this as a "version" of the opera is however somewhat misguided, for there is so much we do not know about it—for example, which items Mozart performed at the end of Act III, where at Munich he had cut the three last arias (mainly because the opera was too long, but partly for dramatic reasons). What is certain is that, if a tenor is to be used for Idamantes, Mozart's tenor version should be given in the ensembles.

I have greatly enjoyed the way Bohm plays it. He may be an octogenarian, but he directs the opera for the most part with a spirit and an urgency that many a young man might envy. Most of the accompanied recitatives are alert and fiery, and in this particular work they carry a great deal of the emotional weight. Mozart's orchestral writing is often unusually complex, and here every strand of it can be heard without any feeling of unnatural perspectives.

Performer:  Wieslaw Ochman,  Edith Mathis,  Julia Varády,  Peter Schreier
Conductor:  Karl Böhm
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dresden Staatskapelle,  Leipzig Radio Chorus


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1 comment:

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