Idomeneo ENO 23 June 2010


The end (from

We had a long and uninspiring evening in the Coliseum. The original story of Idomeneus had first of all been made safe for 18th century audiences by adding a happy ending and some love interest, and then further changed by for instance eliminating any mention of a sea monster.  At times in the music one could hear things that would become interesting in Mozart’s later operas and for long periods one was deeply bored.

As many commentators have pointed out, the production was marked by extras crossing the stage while the principals were delivering their big numbers.  I can think of three reasons for this:

i)  About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;

Well, in this context Mozart is an Old Master and he intended something different.

Brueghel's Icarus--a bit different from crisscrossing waiters

ii)  Electra actually interacts with the waitstaff in various ways that the other main characters don’t, so maybe this reflects her isolation and the idea she is in the wrong place and should be in the underworld with her brother Orestes.

iii)  The director (Katie Mitchell)  felt that the opera was just too boring and the audience needed to be kept entertained somehow.  In the first place, if you don’t believe in the piece you shouldn’t put it on and in the second if the production was meant to entertain the audience independently of the opera why was it so drab?

Still, the video projections were quite nice…

At the end, one of my companions remarked that a bad woman who wore red was bound to come to a sticky end.  Then she found she had left her bag in the pub.  The other felt that after 11 hours in the office 3 h 20 min of this was taking tedium too far.

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