Marco Guidarini

Mozart: Idomeneo, re di Creta

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Idomeneo, which Mozart wrote when he was 25, is not as well known as the Da Ponte operas and Die Zauberflöte, but it undeniably deserves a place in the pantheon of his greatest operas. The Da Ponte operas are unrivalled in their humanity and the musical astuteness and economy of their setting, but Idomeneo stands out for the prodigality of its inspired inventiveness, and it includes some of the loveliest and most glorious music Mozart ever wrote. This live recording is at best a mixed bag. Some of the performances are stellar, but some are not, and the orchestral playing is not of the highest quality. The problem is not with accuracy or precision; the Orchestra of the San Carlo Theatre, Naples, plays the notes well enough, and observes Mozart's expressive markings, but the players don't enliven the music with an understanding of what is going on either musically or dramatically, and their performance is curiously inert. It's not a question of pacing, because Marco Guidarini keeps things moving with good momentum, but a matter of the orchestra's lack of spirit. A second drawback is the singing of tenor Kurt Streit, who just drops out when the notes get too low and whose performance is characterized by the kinds of excesses usually associated with bad verismo singing: a vibrato that's out of control and the voice breaking with emotion. Those problems afflict most of the men in the cast to a lesser degree; these just don't sound like Mozart voices. The women are another story. Soprano Ángeles Blancas Gulín stands out as Ilia; her voice is consistently warm and velvety, and her "Zeffiretti lusinghiera" is ravishing. Soprano Iano Tamar is very strong as Elettra, and conveys her fury powerfully, but she is at her best when she is not at the top of her range. As Idamante, Sonia Ganassi is very fine in a role originally written for male soprano, but her voice has a little bit of an edge. There is a fair amount of stage and audience noise, and the sound in the thicker passages tends to be murky. Dynamic has also issued a video of the performance. Listeners who love Mozart or opera and are not familiar with Idomeneo owe it to themselves to get to know this masterpiece, but this recording is not the place to start.

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Idomeneo, re di Creta, K. 366
1 1:10
2 5:23
3 3:28
4 2:58
5 1:27
6 5:13
7 2:59
8 3:45
9 4:28
10 4:46
11 0:42
12 3:31
13 0:47
14 5:40
15 2:14
16 2:42
17 2:49
18 3:30
19 5:16
20 1:56
blue highlight denotes track pick