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Idomeneo (Idomeneus) - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Information about the opera Idomeneo by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and the best recordings available on CD or DVD, or for download.

Mozart's first mature opera.


The opera tells the story of Idomeneus (Idomeneo), King of Crete, and his son Idamantes (Idamante). Idamantes is in love with Ilia, King Priam's daughter, held prisoner in Crete, and is loved by Elektra (Elettra).

Idomeneus is caught in a storm on his return home from Troy. To placate Neptune he offers to sacrifice the first living thing he meets as he steps ashore, which turns out to be his son.

Idomeneus tries to avoid his obligation to Neptune by sending Idamantes to Argos with Electra (Elettra), to marry her and rule the Mycenaean land, but Neptune sends a sea monster as a terrible reminder of Idomeneus' broken vow.

As Idamantes prepares to battle with the monster he tells Ilia that he loves her. Electra bursts in with Idomeneus, who tells of his promise to Neptune. Idamantes kills the monster and then offers himself in fulfilment of the promise, but Ilia begs to die too. The lovers' pleas to die for each other melt Neptune's heart, and he spares Idamantes' life, but demands that Idomeneus gives the throne to Idamantes and Ilia.

Recommended recordings on CD

Levine/Domingo/Bartoli (Deutsche Grammophon 447 737-2)

447 737-2

The finest modern production and recording.

Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Metropolitan Opera Chorus, conducted by James Levine, 1994.

Cast: Plácido Domingo (Idomeneo), Cecilia Bartoli (Idamante), Heidi Grant Murphy (Ilia), Carol Vaness (Elettra).

Deutsche Grammophon 447 737-2

Gardiner/Rolfe-Johnson/Otter (Archiv Produktion 431 674-2)

431 674-2

A fine recording with period instruments, restoring the music Mozart composed for the first performance, and winner of a Gramophone award in 1991.

Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists, conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner, 1990.

Cast: Anthony Rolfe-Johnson (Idomeneo), Anne Sofie von Otter (Idamante), Sylvia McNair (Ilia), Hillevi Martinpelto (Elettra).

Archiv Produktion 431 674-2

Recommended recordings on DVD

Norrington/Vargas/Siurina (Decca 22-0743169)


Camerata Salzburg, Salzburger Bachchor, conducted by Sir Roger Norrington.

Cast: Ramón Vargas (Idomeneo), Ekaterina Siurina (Idamante), Anja Harteros (Ilia), Magdalena Kozena (Elettra).

Decca 22-0743169

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