March 23, 2017

Met Music Director Emeritus James Levine conducts Mozart’s early masterpiece Idomeneo.  Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s Met premiere staging, which was first seen in 1982, will star Matthew Polenzani in his Met role debut as the King Idomeneo with Nadine Sierra in her role debut as Ilia, Elza van den Heever as Elettra, Alice Coote as Idomeneo’s son Idamante, and Alan Opie as Idomeneo’s confidant Arbace.

The March 25 matinee performance will be transmitted worldwide, including Carib 5, at 11:55 am, here in Jamaica, as part of the 11th season of the Met’s Live in HD series, which now reaches more than 2,000 movie theaters in 71 countries around the world.


Crete, around 1200 BCE. Idomeneo, King of Crete, has been fighting on the side of the Greeks in the Trojan War for several years. Prior to his victorious return home, he has sent ahead of him some Trojan captives, including princess Ilia, daughter of the Trojan king, Priam. She has fallen in love with Idomeneo’s son, Idamante, who has ruled as regent in his father’s absence. Also in love with Idamante is princess Elettra. The daughter of Agamemnon, commander of the Greeks during the war, she has taken refuge in Crete after killing her mother, Clytemnestra, in revenge for her father’s death.

Star Studded Met Performance

James Levine has conducted Idomeneo 46 times to date, including the Met premiere in 1982. Over the course of his career, Levine has conducted more than 2,550 performances with the company in a broad-ranging repertory that has included the Mozart operas Così fan tutte, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Don Giovanni, and Die Zauberflöte, as well as the Met premiere of La Clemenza di Tito,. He served as the company’s Music Director from 1976 to 2016 and retired at the end of last season to become the Met’s first Music Director Emeritus. Earlier this season, he conducted a revival of Verdi’s Nabucco, and next season, he will conduct Die Zauberflöte, concert performances of Verdi’s Requiem, and revivals of Verdi’s Il Trovatore and Luisa Miller.

The opera unfolds on the island of Crete in the aftermath of the Trojan War. The tales of this time have provided fertile grounds for many creators of opera, from Monteverdi (Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria, 1640) and Berlioz (Les Troyens, 1863) to Richard Strauss (Die Ägyptische Helena, 1928) and Martin David Levy (Mourning Becomes Electra, 1967). The era is evocative, reflecting the confusion of a posttraumatic historical moment.

The Creators

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791) was the son of a Salzburg court musician and composer, Leopold, who served as his principal teacher and promoted him as a musical prodigy throughout Europe. His achievements in opera, in terms of melodic beauty, vocal challenge, and dramatic insight, remain unsurpassed, and his seven mature works of the genre (Idomeneo now considered to be in this category) are pillars of the repertory. Giovanni Battista Varesco (1735–1805) was a poet and court chaplain of the Principality of Salzburg, Mozart’s place of employment at the time of Idomeneo. The libretto is based on a 1712 French libretto by Antoine Danchet, an early member of the Acadèmie Française.