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date: 12 November 2019

Idomenée (‘Idomeneus’)locked

  • James R. Anthony

Extract

(‘Idomeneus’)

Tragédie en musique in a prologue and five acts by André Campra to a libretto by Antoine Danchet ; Paris, Opéra, 12 January 1712.

Idomenée is best known today as the principal source of the libretto to Mozart’s Idomeneo. G. B. Varesco, Mozart’s librettist, simplified Danchet’s plot and changed the tragic ending to a happy one. At the end of Campra’s opera Idomeneus (bass) goes mad, slays Idamantes (haute-contre) and is prevented from suicide by his retinue.

The most impressive musical features in Idomenée are in Campra’s use of the chorus and orchestra. There is, for example, an offstage chorus of shipwrecked people (Act 2 scene i), a device used 37 years later by Rameau in Zoroastre. In this scene the orchestra’s storm music constantly penetrates the chorus and the recitative ‘Vents orageux, cessez’, sung by Neptune (bass). The same motif recurs in the prelude to Act 3 scene i to evoke the ‘storm’ in Idomeneus’s heart. In ...

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