Idomeneus





In three acts by W. A. MOZART.



Text by ABBATE GIANBATTISTA VARESCO.





This opera, which Mozart composed in his twenty-fifth year for the

Opera-seria in Munich, was represented in the year 1781, and won

brilliant success.







It is the most remarkable composition of Mozart's youthful age, and

though he wrote it under Gluck's influence, there is many a spark of

his own original genius, and often he breaks the bonds of conventional

form and rises to heights hitherto unanticipated. The public in

general does not estimate the opera very highly, in consequence

Idomeneus was only represented in Dresden, after the long interval of

21 years, to find the house empty and the applause lukewarm. But the

true connoisseur of music ought not to be influenced by public opinion,

for though the action does not warm the hearer, the music is at once

divinely sweet and harmonious; no wild excitement, no ecstatic

feelings, but music pure and simple, filling the soul with sweet

content.



The scene takes place in Cydonia, on the isle of Crete soon after the

end of the Trojan war.--



In the first act Ilia, daughter of Priam, bewails her unhappy fate, but

won by the magnanimity of Idamantes, son of Idomeneus, King of Crete,

who relieves the captive Trojans from their fetters, she begins to love

him, much against her own will. Electra, daughter of Agamemnon, who

also loves Idamantes perceives with fury his predilection for the

captive princess and endeavours to regain his heart.



Arbaces, the High-Priest enters, to announce that Idomeneus has

perished at sea in a tempest. All bewail this misfortune and hasten to

the strand to pray to the gods for safety.







But Idomeneus is not dead. Poseidon, whose help he invoked in his

direst need, has saved him, Idomeneus vowing to sacrifice to the God

the first mortal whom he should encounter on landing.--Unfortunately it

is his own son, who comes to the strand to mourn for his beloved

father.--Idomeneus, having been absent during the siege of Troy for ten

years, at first fails to recognize his son. But when the truth dawns

on both, the son's joy is as great as the father's misery. Terrified

the latter turns from the aggrieved and bewildered Idamantes.

Meanwhile the King's escort has also safely landed and all thank

Poseidon for their delivery.



In the second act Idomeneus takes counsel with Arbaces, and resolves to

send his son away, in order to save him from the impending evil. The

King speaks to Ilia, whose love for Idamantes he soon divines. This

only adds to his poignant distress.--Electra, hearing that she is to

accompany Idamantes to Argos is radiant, hoping that her former lover

may then forget Ilia. They take a tender farewell from Idomeneus, but

just when they are about to embark, a dreadful tempest arises, and a

monster emerges from the waves, filling all present with awe and terror.



In the third act Idamantes seeks Ilia to bid her farewell. Not

anticipating the reason of his father's grief, which he takes for hate,

he is resolved to die for his country, by either vanquishing the

dreadful monster, sent by Poseidon's wrath, or by perishing in the

combat.







Ilia, unable to conceal her love for him any longer, bids him live,

live for her. In his new-found happiness Idamantes forgets his grief,

and when his father surprises the lovers, he implores him to calm his

wrath, and rushes away, firmly resolved to destroy the monster.--



With terrible misgivings Idomeneus sees Arbaces approach, who announces

that the people are in open rebellion against him. The King hastens to

the temple, where he is received with remonstrances by the High-Priest,

who shows him the horrid ravages, which Poseidon's wrath has achieved

through the monster; he entreats him to name the victim for the

sacrifice and to satisfy the wishes of the God. Rent by remorse and

pain Idomeneus finally names his son.



All are horror-stricken, and falling on their knees, they crave

Poseidon's pardon.--While they yet kneel, loud songs of triumph are

heard, and Idamantes returns victorious from his fight with the monster.



With noble courage he throws himself at his father's feet, imploring

his benediction and--his death. For having heard of his father's

unhappy vow, he now comprehends his sorrow, and endeavours to lessen

his grief.



Idomeneus, torn by conflicting feelings at last is about to grant his

son's wish, but when he lifts his sword, Ilia throws herself between,

imploring him to let her be the victim. A touching scene ensues

between the lovers, but Ilia gains her point. Just when she is

about to receive her death-stroke, Poseidon's pity is at last aroused.

In thunder and lightning he decrees, that Idomeneus is to renounce his

throne in favor of Idamantes, for whose spouse he chooses Ilia.



In a concluding scene we see Electra tormented by the furies of hate

and jealousy. Idomeneus fulfils Poseidon's request, and all invoke the

God's benediction on the happy Royal house of Crete.





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