Idomeneo, re di Creta (‘Idomeneus, King of Crete’)
- Julian Rushton
(‘Idomeneus, King of Crete’)
Dramma per musica in three acts, K 366, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to a libretto by Giovanni Battista Varesco after Antoine Danchet Idomenée; Munich, Residenztheater, 29 January 1781.
Mozart received the commission from the Munich Intendant, Count Seeau, during the summer of 1780. Danchet’s five-act libretto of 1712 was adapted by the Salzburg cleric Varesco in three acts, on the pattern of the ‘reformed’ operas of Jommelli and Gluck, balancing the introduction of Italian arias by retaining a strong choral element, ballet, a high proportion of orchestrated recitative, scenic effects, and some ensemble writing. The influence of Gluck’s Alceste is felt in hieratic scenes, particularly the speech for the High Priest and the utterance of the oracle, but also in the prevailing seriousness. Mozart had witnessed the synthesis of French forms and Italian music in Piccinni’s Roland, the effect of which, and perhaps of Jommelli, was to encourage what Gluck tended to repress: highly developed aria forms with the bloom of italianate lyricism....