By the time of this 1964 Glyndebourne production of Idomeneo, the festival had presented the opera five times since its 1951 English premiere and had recorded an abridged version in 1956. There have been commercial releases of three different performances from the 1964 production, including one with the identical performers broadcast from London's Royal Albert Hall the day after the last festival performance. This recording comes from the Glyndebourne archives and was made by John Barnes, who documented thousands of performances from the festival. The sound is astonishingly good for a live recording of the era, clear and balanced with a minimum of noise. Hans Gál, a German composer living in England who made the performing edition, cut almost an hour of music, nearly eliminated the role of Arbace (who is inexplicably a baritone here rather than a tenor), and gave the castrato role of Idamante to a tenor. The modifications are so extensive that this would not be a good set for listeners new to the opera, but it could be of interest to fans of Gundula Janowitz, Luciano Pavarotti, and Richard Lewis. Janowitz's soaring performance is particularly effective; it's luminous and passionately sung. The recording was made early in her career and her voice has a lovely bloom and freshness. Pavarotti had not yet made it to superstardom, or even stardom, but his was clearly a voice to watch out for, heroic, warm, and generously lyrical. What's missing is the fiery conviction that characterized his performances in his prime. At this point in his career, Richard Lewis' voice had an almost baritonal fullness and a sustained lyricism. As Elettra Enriqueta Tarrés is shaky and sometime sounds like she is barely holding on, but she seems to have found her footing by the third act. John Pritchard leads the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Glyndebourne in a performance with an appropriate lightness and a good sense of momentum.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2