mozart's idomeneo reimagined
Directed by David Paul • January 26, 29, February 1, 3, 2019
afterWARds uses the words and music of Mozart's IDOMENEO – perhaps his most radical, modern opera – in a reorganized and distilled 80-minute format that shifts the opera's focus towards its four protagonists and their timeless struggles for love and peace in a world full of carnage and destruction.
afterWARds is set on the island of Crete immediately after the Trojan War. Idomeneo is the King of Crete. Idamante is his son. Ilia is the Princess of Troy and enemy of Crete, who Idamante rescues from a shipwreck. King Idomeneo promises to kill the “traitor” who rescued Ilia, not realizing it was his son. Meanwhile, Ilia and Idamante begin to fall in love with each other, which infuriates Elettra, the Princess of Argos, who loves Idamante as well.
These four star-crossed characters are caught in a whirlwind of love, betrayal, loyalty, and family as they seek to rebuild their lives.
afterWARds will star Pittsburgh Opera’s award-winning Resident Artists, allowing audiences the rare opportunity to see tomorrow’s opera stars in an intimate performance space.
The Artistic Team
Conductor - Glenn Lewis
Stage Director - David Paul
Scenic Designer - Christian Fleming
Costume Designer - Natalie Burton
Media Designer - Caite Hevner
Lighting Designer - A.J. Guban
Stage Manager - Cindy Knight
Asst Stage Manager - Alex W. Seidel
Wig Master - Nicole Pagano
Asst Stage Director - *Matthew Haney
Asst Lighting Designer/Master Electrician - Todd Nonn
Prop Master - Johnmichael Bohach
Sets & Costumes created by Pittsburgh Opera
+ Pittsburgh Opera debut
* Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist
** Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist alumni
After years of bloodshed, the Trojan War is over and the fighters begin the difficult journey home. Idomeneo, King of Crete and commander of its depleted forces, is sailing home with the remainder of his men. Attached to the ship is a smaller vessel harboring Ilia, Princess of Troy, a refugee who watched her family murdered before her eyes. The overture begins with a massive storm that overturns Ilia's ship and throws Idomeneo's ship into danger. Idamante, son of Idomeneo, braves the storm to rescue whomever he can reach. He rescues Ilia in his boat and returns to shore. Idomeneo's men are outraged at the apparent betrayal. They demand the King's word that he kill whoever rescued their enemy while leaving them out at sea. Idomeneo, under intense pressure from his men, accedes to their wish, promising to kill the unknown young man just as his own ship, too, is overturned, casting Idomeneo and his men into the sea. (This sequence is told throughout the overture in a combination of live action and video ).
Back on Crete, the opera begins with Ilia in a refugee shelter. As her family's sole survivor, she is tormented by guilt and feelings of betrayal. Yet much more pressingly, she is racked by her newest torment: a secret, inappropriate, and impossible love for Idamante, the young man and former enemy who just saved her life.
Idomeneo lands on the shore, arriving on a makeshift float consisting of pieces of his wrecked ship. Weary from years of war and destruction, he is tortured by the thought of having to kill yet another person. Meanwhile, Idamante, believing his father to have been killed in the storm, comes to the same shore to mourn him. Father and son meet but don't recognize each other – though Idomeneo knows that this is the man he has sworn to kill. When he discovers their true relationship, Idomeneo runs away, horrified; Idamante is left behind in complete emotional upheaval.
We next meet another inhabitant of the refugee shelter: Electra, the sole survivor of her infamous family. With the war finally over, Electra fantasizes, for the first time in her life, about a positive future – with Idamante, the object of her desire, at her side.
Idamante, meanwhile, confesses his own illicit feelings to Ilia. Caught completely by surprise, she rejects him – just as Idomeneo arrives. He senses that his son might have fallen for the enemy refugee, while Electra panics that Idamante and her imagined future are slipping from her grasp. Idomeneo refuses to speak to Idamante, and seeing no other way to avoid having to kill his own son, banishes him. Idamante is crushed, completely confused as to the reason.
Idomeneo has organized a ship to take Idamante and Electra back to her homeland. Electra, relieved to hear the sounds of the water, says a happy farewell to Crete. Idomeneo, meanwhile, is tortured by the vow he made and his inability to tell his son the truth. The torment he feels is overwhelming and he contemplates killing himself. Idamante and Electra arrive and Idomeneo sends them off .
Suddenly, a giant storm whips up, leaving everyone scrambling for safety. Idomeneo, in complete emotional disarray, reads it as a sign from the gods. He screams at the heavens, demanding they take him, instead.
The storm subsides and Idamantes seeks out Ilia to say his final farewell to her. He has decided to venture off on his own, rather than live among people who don't return his love. Ilia makes a tortured confession of her own feelings. Both are overwhelmed, basking in this unexpected moment of bliss.
Ilia seeks out Idomeneo to try and build a bridge between father and son. In a difficult moment of personal struggle, she explains to him that she is ready to accept him as a friend and father-figure, in spite of her family's past suffering at his hands.
Idamante arrives. He has learned the true reason for his father's coldness: his father was trying to shield him from the awful truth of promising to kill him. He is ready to accept his death at Idomeneo's hands, serene in the knowledge that his father loves him after all. Idomeneo is overwhelmed with emotion when Ilia suddenly volunteers herself in Idamante's place, arguing that it's her whom the people actually want dead. The proceedings are interrupted by Electra, who, seeing her future dreams dismantled before her eyes, suffers a nervous breakdown.
Idomeneo, deeply moved by the love of his son and the bond between him and Ilia, makes his most courageous decision: to defy the misguided will of his people and allow Idamante to live, regardless of the consequences. Father, son, and Ilia sing a chorus of love and peace, looking ahead to an uncertain future.
-Courtesy of David Paul and Ken Benson
We want you to have the best experience possible at our performances!
- Run time: 1 hour and 25 minutes
- Understand Every Word: afterWARds is sung in Italian, and has English supertitles projected above the stage at all performances
- Parking Downtown: get real-time parking availability
- Pre-Opera Talks before each performance
- Audio Description available at CAPA Theater
- Braille Programs available at CAPA Theater
- Large-Print Programs available at CAPA Theater
Listen to Pittsburgh Opera General Director Christopher Hahn give a brief synopsis of afterWARds featuring excerpts from this 1991 Deutsche Grammophon recording of Idomeneo with John Eliot Gardiner conducting the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque soloists.
Click play below or download these excerpts for an offline treat!
- "Overture"- performed by the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque soloists
- "Padre, germani"- sung by Sylvia McNair as Ilia
- "Vedrommi intorno"- sung by Anthony Rolfe Johnson as Idomeneo
- "Il padre adorato"- sung by Sofie Von Otter as Idamante
- "Idol mio"- sung by Hillevi Martinpelto as Elettra
- "S'io non moro"- sung by Anne Sofie von Otter as Idamante and Sylvia McNair as Ilia
- "D'Oreste, D'Ajace"- sung by Hillevi Martinpelto as Elettra