Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Idomineo + what a week!

Robert Murray, Timothy Robinson, Rebecca von Lipinski,
Toby, Louise Alder, Caitlin Hulcup, Nicholas Masters
Last night to see the wonderful Idomineo at Garsington starring Toby Spence. This was the first time I'd seen the opera and although it means I have missed a masterpiece I'm glad because I find it impossible to imagine a finer performance!

Toby drags Rebecca von Lipinski on in front of Container
I made a point of not reading the programme or anything else about the opera so it was all fresh to me. The set was essentially two containers on a wooden stage, one of which (see left) opened out to give interior scenes and one of which was at an angle and would contain prisoners - and later corpses.  This was all part of a remarkably effective production which remineded us that issues of prisoners and shipwreck are not purely historical, even though of course the idea of a human sacrifice made as a result of a vow to the Gods is no longer with us.

We were treated to captivating and excellent performances from  Louise Alder as Ilia (daughter of King Priam and capitve on Crete), Caitlin Hulcup as Idamante (son of Idomineo King of Crete, in love with Ilia) and Rebecca von Lipinski as Elettra (refugee on Crete - though I can't find any classical allusions to this!) and then Idomineo arrives washed up on the shore having surived the storm by promising Neptune that he would sacrifice the first living thing(?person) he sees on arrival - only to meet his son Idamante. Toby was beyond brilliant in this demanding title role - singing and acting superbly throughout and inspiring the whole cast to even greater heights.

Toby very kindly joined me in the restuarant tent at the end of the Interval supper and explained that the highly intelligent conductor, Tobias Ringborg, had done an excellent job of cutting the material so that the whole thing flows in a really dramatic manner. The entire published score including the Anhang (Appendix) runs to 379 pages and would, uncut, "result in an evening of Wagnerian length".  He said that every performance he felt the cast had got even better. And he told me that this was the opera of which Mozart was most proud - he carried it with him everywhere and it was deeply personal since it speaks of how a tyrannical father sacrifices (or nearly) his son somewhat in the way that Mozart's own father did - not least in sending him away to perform in Paris and thus missing the death of his mother. I'm also delighted to learn that his next engagement is singing Ottavio in San Sebastian with Nicole Cabell as Elvira!

The final Third Act was indeed even more magnificant and shattering than the previous ones, as Toby had suggested. Robert Murray (Idomineo's friend), Timothy Robinson (Priest of Neptune) and Nicholas Masters (as Neptune) all performed excellently. And Elettra's use of knives for self-harm rather than suicide was a very good touch, as was giving her her truly - er - electrifying final aria from the Anghang.

Travelled back on the train with some other opera-goers. And much enjoyed some of the biographical notes, not least that James Gilchrist (who is singing in The Creation later) "Enjoys listenting to The Archers and open water swimming, the latter due to his limited success as a sailor"

I am of course delighted that Theresa is to be PM and that Andrea Leadsom has withdrawn. I emailed her on Thurday saying "Congratulations - but now as a Christian please consider prayerfully stepping aside" and it seems I may not have been alone. Let us hope and pray that Theresa makes a great PM in these very challenging times.

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