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Review: IDOMENEO Returns to Met with Splendid Spyres, Glistening Fang, under Honeck's Fluid Conducting in House Debut

Performance shows the difference casting can make in skewing attention of the major roles

Review: IDOMENEO Returns to Met with Splendid Spyres, Glistening Fang, under Honeck's Fluid Conducting in House Debut
Lindsay, Spyres, Fang.
Photo: Karen Almond/Met Opera

On the second night of the new season, the Met went for Mozart, conducted fluidly and elegantly, but it was hardly 'business as usual.'

When I last saw the opera at the Met--in the 40-year-old Jean-Pierre Ponnelle production that still looks fresh--IDOMENEO had a different emphasis for me. Despite wonderful singing from many of the principals in the cast, it wasn't the King of Crete (the title role) or his captive, Ilia, daughter of King Priam of Troy, that was so memorable. It was Elettra, the jealous princess of Argos who walked off with the show.

Review: IDOMENEO Returns to Met with Splendid Spyres, Glistening Fang, under Honeck's Fluid Conducting in House Debut
Lindsay, Fang (front) Photo:
Karen Almond/Met Opera

This time around, it seemed changed. The title role in this, considered by many to be Mozart's first mature opera, was sung by Michael Spyres, billed in the program as a tenor but usually known these days as a "baritenor." He gave a knockout portrayal that caught both the heroic and elegant, the high and the low sides of the character.

Giving him a run for his money was the exquisite Ying Fang as Ilia, who I've heard and admired many times, since she was a student. Her arias in Acts II and III were models of gorgeous sound.

Overall, the singing was good, but without setting the stage ablaze. The performance's Elettra was Federico Lombardi, who has a lovely voice but didn't build her character from the beginning, so that when she becomes unhinged in Act III, the impact was not great enough.

Review: IDOMENEO Returns to Met with Splendid Spyres, Glistening Fang, under Honeck's Fluid Conducting in House Debut
Fanale , Lombardi, Savage. Photo:
Karen Almond/Met Opera

Tenor Paola Fanale's Arbace (Idomeneo's confidante) was a fine contrast to the King's more heroic sound. For me, the letdown was mezzo Kate Lindsey as the king's son, Idamante, a pants role. She looked right and her dramatic skills were what they should be. But she didn't have enough sound, even when she came to the stage's curtain, and was practically in the orchestra.

As I alluded to earlier, Manfred Honeck made a significant debut leading the Met orchestra. You were never in doubt about who was in charge, as he drew lovely work from the orchestra and principals; the chorus was also in peak form, under chorus master Donald Palumbo.

Performances of IDOMENEO will continue through October 20. For more information and tickets, see the Met's website.



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From This Author - Richard Sasanow

Richard Sasanow has been BroadwayWorld.com's Opera Editor for many years, with interests covering contemporary works, standard repertoire and true rarities from every era. He is an intervi... (read more about this author)


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