Dramma per musica in three acts (1781)

Music by

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Text by

Giambattista Varesco

A storm rages off the coast of Crete, forcing King Idomeneo, who is returning from the Trojan War, to make an ill-fated promise to Neptune: if the enraged god lets him reach land safely, he will sacrifice the first man he meets. When Idomeneo arrives on the beach, he meets his son Idamante. But the unforgiving world of the gods seems determined to exact the king’s promise.

The storm evoked so vividly by Mozart’s music rages not only in nature but also in all his characters. Be it father and son, be it the two foreign princesses Ilia and Elettra, who hope for better days after the traumatic war – they are all at the mercy of natural forces and emotion, which the score by the then 25-year-old Mozart strikingly illustrates. »Idomeneo«, which completely revived the genre of the opera seria, opens the Staatsoper series of Mozart’s mature operas. Written in 1781 as a commissioned work for the outstanding ensemble of the Munich Residenztheater, he drew on his full musical range for this extensive and ambitious work. Mozart did not fulfil his hope of finding a new position and leaving Salzburg with this piece as his calling card. But his sheer ambition resulted in an exceptional score with challenging arias, individual vignettes, a virtuoso orchestral part and some great choral scenes, which are among the most impressive in Mozart’s oeuvre.