Idoménée

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Idoménée (English: Idomeneus) is an opera by the French composer André Campra. It takes the form of a tragédie en musique in a prologue and five acts. Idoménée was first performed on 12 January 1712 by the Académie royale de musique at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal in Paris. The libretto, by Antoine Danchet, is based on a stage play by Crébillon père. It later formed the basis of Varesco's libretto for Mozart's opera Idomeneo.

Roles[edit]

Role Voice type Premiere cast, 12 January 1712
(Conductor: - )
Idoménée bass-baritone Gabriel-Vincent Thévenard
Eole/Arbas bass-baritone Charles Hardouin
Idamante haute-contre Jacques Cochereau
Ilione soprano Françoise Journet
Arcas haute-contre Buseau
Dircé soprano Marie Antier
Neptune/High sacrificer of Neptune bass-baritone Jean Dun 'père'
Two sacrificers haute-contre; (?) Robert Lebel; M Deshayes
Electre soprano Mlle Pestel
Vénus soprano Marie-Catherine Poussin
A follower of Vénus soprano Mlle Loignon
Two sea divinities/Two sheperdesses sopranos Mlles Delaurier and Terlet
Protée bass-baritone M Drot
La Jalousie/Némésis (travesti) haute-contre Louis Mantienne
A woman from Crete soprano Mlle Linbour
Another sheperdess soprano Mlle Dekerkof

Synopsis[edit]

  • Prologue Vénus visits Eole (Aeolus) in his cavern to ask him to release the winds so she can punish the Greek hero Idoménée (Idomeneus), on his way back from the siege of Troy to his home in Crete.
  • Act One: In Crete, Ilione, daughter of King Priam of Troy reveals she has rejected the advances of Idoménée, but is secretly in love with his son Idamante. He returns her love, spurning Electre, who jealously plots revenge. News arrives that Idoménée has been lost in a storm at sea.
  • Act Two: Idoménee has been shipwrecked but, thanks to the god Neptune, he has survived. He reveals he owes his life to the promise he made to Neptune to sacrifice the first person he should meet on the Cretan shore. To his horror, that person is his own son Idamante.
  • Act Three: Idoménée has learnt of the love between Ilione and Idamante and is torn between a desire to save his son and jealousy. He orders Idamante to take Electre back to her homeland but as the ship is ready to depart a huge sea monster blocks its way. Neptune is determined to keep Idoménée to his vow.
  • Act Four: Ilione tells Idamante of Idoménée's love for her. At the temple of Neptune, Idoménée implores the god to release him from his promise. Idamante fights and kills the sea monster.
  • Act Five: Idoménée announces that he will leave the throne and Ilione to Idamante. But the gods' anger is not yet appeased. They send Idoménée insane and in his fury he mistakenly kills his own son.

Recording[edit]

Sources[edit]

  • Original libretto: Idomenée, Tragedie représentée pour la premiere fois par l'Academie Royale de Musique, Le Mardy douziéme jour de Janvier 1712, Paris, Ballard, 1712 (accessible for free online in gallica, Bibliothèque Nationale de France)
  • The Viking Opera Guide ed. Holden (Viking, 1993)
  • Le magazine de l'opéra baroque