IDOMENEO (Opera Atelier). To May 3. 416-872-5555. See listings. Rating: NNNN
Musically, Idomeneo is one of Mozart’s best operas. Too bad it’s performed so rarely, but maybe Opera Atelier’s version will help convince other companies to stage it as frequently as Figaro or Don Giovanni.
This opera seria’s plot is drawn from Greek legend. Cretan king Idomeneo (Kresimir Spicer) promises Neptune during a stormy voyage that if the sea god saves his fleet, Idomeneo will sacrifice the first person he meets on landing. It turns out to be his son Idamante (Michael Maniaci), who loves the princess Ilia (Peggy Kriha Dye) but is loved himself by the jealous Elettra (Measha Brueggergosman).
The singing is first-rate, with Spicer able to modulate his voice from a whisper to a full-throated yet mellifluous sound; Kriha Dye’s a sweet-voiced Ilia; and Brueggergosman tears into her arias with thrilling theatricality.
The Achilles heel in the production is Maniaci’s acting. He sings gloriously, but his vocal flexibility isn’t reflected in his stiff body. He’s not able to use, as do the others, director Marshall Pynkoski’s stylized movements to reflect Idamante’s emotions.
Conducting Tafelmusik, Andrew Parrott turns up the onstage drama with his taut leadership, bringing out the music’s lyricism as well as its stormy moments. Visually, Gerard Gauci’s backdrops are worth admiring as paintings, and lighting designer Bonnie Beecher’s use of soft spotlights gives a warm focus to the characters.