A valiant but flawed ‘Idomeneo’ from In Series
By Charles T. Downey,
No one can accuse the organizers of the In Series of not being ambitious. To close their season of small-scale operas, they went for grand with an abridged version of Mozart’s “Idomeneo,” heard on Saturday night at the Atlas Performing Arts Center. It was hard not to admire the guts it took to aim so high, even if the results were found wanting on many counts.
At the head of a variable cast was soprano Randa Rouweyha, noble and ardent as Ilia, the Trojan princess in love with Idomeneo’s son, Idamante. The best of the three tenors in the opera was Joseph Haughton, who had the strongest and most beautiful sound as the counselor Arbace, followed by Peter Boroughs’s oddly nasal Idamante, a castrato role in the 1781 premiere that Mozart rewrote for tenor at the 1786 revival. Soprano Jennifer Suess was a spitfire Electra, but the role’s demands stretched her voice to the breaking point. The score was already trimmed of about an hour’s worth of music, and it would have been better to cut Idomeneo’s showcase aria “Fuor del mar,” as well, since it was beyond the abilities of the singer.
Charlotte Stoudt’s clever English adaptation of the libretto updated the story, putting occupied Troy under the control of international peacekeeping forces. Carlos Cesar Rodiíguez valiantly helmed the reduced scoring from the keyboard, with a string quartet catching what parts it could. The bare-bones production directed by Tom Mallan was surprisingly effective, using the chorus — which was musically the most moving part of this production — to create the effect of Idomeneo’s ship, for example. Dancers Heidi Kershaw and Alvaro Palau added some elegant flavor.
Downey is a freelance writer.