Sea monster, storms and reging emotions - Idomeneo makes a splash at Buxton International Festival

Maeleine Pierard (Elettra) in Idomeneo at Buxton Festival. Photo by Richard Hubert Smith.
Maeleine Pierard (Elettra) in Idomeneo at Buxton Festival. Photo by Richard Hubert Smith.

Mozart’s opera Idomeneo is based on a legend told by Homer, writes Mavis Kirkham.

King Idomeneo of Crete was returning from the Trojan War when his ship was threatened by a fierce storm.

He vowed to Neptune that if his life was saved he would sacrifice the first person he meets on his return and this turns out to be his son.

Idomeneo’s guilt and Neptune’s anger make for high drama together with forbidden love between royalty of enemy nations and unrequited love in Crete.

The music is wonderful with towering storms, raging emotions and a sea-monster laying waste the land, as well as exquisite arias and orchestral recitative.

This production certainly does the opera justice. All the soloists sang and acted really well. Paul Nilon was outstanding in the musically and dramatically

demanding title role. Madelaine Pierard’s powerful soprano was just right for Elettra, the princess whose love for Idomeneo’s son is unrequited. She

conveyed her desire, her longing and her bitterness with great dramatic skill.

The chorus were excellent in their acting and in singing some of the most beautiful choruses in opera. The lighting was good, as were the set and

costumes.

From every angle, this production of Idomeneo is a real success. The audience on the first night certainly thought so.

Idomeneo continues its run at Buxton Opera House on July 11, 14, 19 and 21. Tickets £20-£78. Call 01298 72190 or go to www.buxtonoperahouse.org.uk