Photo Flash: First Look At Pittsburgh Opera's afterWARds
afterWARds uses the words and music of Mozart's Idomeneo - perhaps his most radical, modern opera - in a reorganized and distilled 85-minute format by director David Paul, that shifts the opera's focus towards its four protagonists and their timeless struggles for love and peace in a world full of carnage and destruction. All the music is Mozart's, and the lyrics are from the original Italian libretto.
afterWARds is set on the island of Crete immediately after the Trojan War. Idomeneo is the King of Crete. Idamante is his son. Ilia is the Princess of Troy and enemy of Crete, who Idamante rescues from a shipwreck. King Idomeneo promises to kill the "traitor" who rescued Ilia, not realizing it was his son. Meanwhile, Ilia and Idamante begin to fall in love with each other, which infuriates Elettra, the Princess of Argos, who loves Idamante as well.
These four star-crossed characters are caught in a whirlwind of love, betrayal, loyalty, and family as they seek to rebuild their lives.
afterWARds will star Pittsburgh Opera's award-winning Resident Artists, allowing audiences the rare opportunity to see tomorrow's opera stars in an intimate performance space.
After years of bloodshed, the Trojan War is over, and the fighters begin the difficult journey home. Idomeneo, King of Crete and commander of its depleted forces, is sailing home with the remainder of his men. Attached to the ship is a smaller vessel harboring Ilia, Princess of Troy, a refugee who watched her family murdered before her eyes. The overture begins with a massive storm that overturns Ilia's ship and throws Idomeneo's ship into danger.
Idamante, son of Idomeneo, braves the storm to rescue whomever he can reach. He rescues Ilia in his boat and returns to shore. Idomeneo's men are outraged at the apparent betrayal. They demand the King's word that he kill whoever rescued their enemy while leaving them out at sea. Idomeneo, under intense pressure from his men, accedes to their wish, promising to kill the unknown young man just as his own ship, too, is overturned, casting Idomeneo and his men into the sea. (This sequence is told throughout the overture in a combination of live action and video.)
Back on Crete, the opera begins with Ilia in a refugee shelter. As her family's sole survivor, she is tormented by guilt and feelings of betrayal. Yet much more pressingly, she is racked by her newest torment: a secret, inappropriate, and impossible love for Idamante, the young man and former enemy who just saved her life.
Idomeneo lands on the shore, arriving on a makeshift float consisting of pieces of his wrecked ship. Weary from years of war and destruction, he is tortured by the thought of having to kill yet another person. Meanwhile, Idamante, believing his father to have been killed in the storm, comes to the same shore to mourn him. Father and son meet but don't recognize each other - though Idomeneo knows that this is the man he has sworn to kill. When he discovers their true relationship, Idomeneo runs away, horrified; Idamante is left behind in complete emotional upheaval.
We next meet another inhabitant of the refugee shelter: Elettra, exiled princess of Argos, who has fled to Crete. Elettra fantasizes, for the first time in her life, about a positive future - with Idamante, the object of her desire, at her side.
Idamante, meanwhile, confesses his own illicit feelings to Ilia. Caught completely by surprise, she rejects him - just as Idomeneo arrives. He senses that his son might have fallen for the enemy refugee, while Elettra panics that Idamante and her imagined future are slipping from her grasp. Idomeneo refuses to speak to Idamante, and seeing no other way to avoid having to kill his own son, banishes him. Idamante is crushed, completely confused as to the reason.
Idomeneo has organized a ship to take Idamante and Elettra back to her homeland. Elettra, relieved to hear the sounds of the water, says a happy farewell to Crete. Idomeneo, meanwhile, is tortured by the vow he made and his inability to tell his son the truth. The torment he feels is overwhelming and he contemplates killing himself. Idamante and Elettra arrive and Idomeneo sends them off.
Suddenly, a giant storm whips up, leaving everyone scrambling for safety. Idomeneo, in complete emotional disarray, reads it as a sign from the gods. He screams at the heavens, demanding they take him instead.
The storm subsides and Idamante seeks out Ilia to say his final farewell to her. He has decided to venture off on his own, rather than live among people who don't return his love. Ilia makes a tortured confession of her own feelings. Both are overwhelmed, basking in this unexpected moment of bliss.
Ilia seeks out Idomeneo to try and build a bridge between father and son. In a difficult moment of personal struggle, she explains to him that she is ready to accept him as a friend and father-figure, in spite of her family's past suffering at his hands.
Idamante arrives. He has learned the true reason for his father's coldness: his father was trying to shield him from the awful truth of promising to kill him. He is ready to accept his death at Idomeneo's hands, serene in the knowledge that his father loves him after all. Idomeneo is overwhelmed with emotion when Ilia suddenly volunteers herself in Idamante's place, arguing that it's her whom the people actually want dead. The proceedings are interrupted by Elettra, who, seeing her future dreams dismantled before her eyes, suffers a nervous breakdown.
Idomeneo, deeply moved by the love of his son and the bond between him and Ilia, makes his most courageous decision: to defy the misguided will of his people and allow Idamante to live, regardless of the consequences. Father, son, and Ilia sing a chorus of love and peace, looking ahead to an uncertain future.
Photo Credit: David Bachman Photography
Ashley Fabian, Antonia Botti-Lodovico
Terrence Chin-Loy, Antonia Botti-Lodovico
Antonia Botti-Lodovico, Terrence Chin-Loy, Caitlin Gotimer
Caitlin Gotimer, Antonia Botti-Lodovico, Ashley Fabian, Terrence Chin-Loy
Caitlin Gotimer, Antonia Botti-Lodovico, Ashley Fabian
Antonia Botti-Lodovico, Terrence Chin-Loy