BWW Opera Showstopper: With One Aria, Elza van den Heever Steals the Met's IDOMENEO

BWW Opera Showstopper: With One Aria, Elza van den Heever Steals the Met's IDOMENEO
Elza van den Heever as Elettra.
Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

No one can accuse the Met of skimping when it put together its current revival of Mozart's opera seria IDOMENEO.

With a cast led by tenor Matthew Polenzani in the title role, elegant and Mozartian to the nth degree, there was also the suave and poignant mezzo Alice Coote as his son, Idamante, and the pristine, gorgeous soprano Nadine Sierra as Ilia, the captured princess from Troy, all under the baton of Music Director Emeritus James Levine with the great Met orchestra. Each of them had glorious music that left the audience cheering. But it was the fourth of the leading players, the full-bodied dramatic soprano Elza van den Heever, as Elettra, who blew the roof off.

In van den Heever's hands, nearly four hours into the work, Elettra--yes, the same Elektra, daughter of Agamemnon, to whom Richard Strauss devoted a whole opera--takes rejection and makes it into a thrill ride. While ''D'Oreste, d'Aiace'' is not exactly a mad scene--it's more about rage--it did manage to drive the audience wild. Van den Heever's high-flying performance soared, cajoled, and cried "unfair!" while never forgetting that this was Mozart.

When van den Heever--who made such a huge impression as Elisabetta in the Met's MARIA STUARDA, opposite both Joyce DiDonato and Sondra Radvanovsky--delivered this final aria (she also had earlier, less showy ones), it was a great moment to be in the house.


IDOMENEO will be broadcast in the Met's LIVE IN HD series on Saturday, March 25 at 12:55 pm EST. Further performances of the opera at the Met: March 13, 17, 21, 25mat. Curtain times vary: complete schedule here. Running time: 3 hours and 56 minutes, two intermissions.


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Richard Sasanow Richard Sasanow is a long-time writer on art, music, food, travel and international business for publications including The New York Times, The Guardian (UK), Town & Country and Travel & Leisure, among many others. He also interviewed some of the great singers of the 20th century for the programs at the San Francisco Opera and San Diego Opera and worked on US tours of the Orchestre National de France and Vienna State Opera, conducted by Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta and Leonard Bernstein.