When to see it
War hero Idomeneo promises the gods he will sacrifice the first person he sees in return for a safe journey home. That person is his son Idamante.
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The premiere of Idomeneo on 29 January 1781 came just two days after Mozart's 25th birthday. It was his 13th work for the stage and marks his full maturity as a dramatic composer. The plot moves with breathless immediacy, plunging the characters into extreme emotional states, taking the audience with them. Idomeneo also features some of Mozart's most varied and inventive music, including the heroic regality of Idomeneo's 'Fuor del mar', the tenderness of Ilia and Idamante’s duet ‘S’io non moro a questi accenti’ and the furious vocal acrobatics of Elettra's 'D'Oreste, d'Ajace'.
Austrian Martin Kušej is considered one of the most important directors working today, acclaimed for his dark and incisive productions such as Der fliegende Holländer for Netherlands Opera and La forza del destino for Bavarian State Opera. His creative team includes frequent collaborators set designer Annette Murschetz, costume designer Heide Kastler and lighting designer Reinhard Traub.
News and features
29 October 2014
The arts have a long tradition of depicting gods but in an age of increased scepticism, depictions of higher powers are more interesting than ever.
28 October 2014
The composer's letters to his father give a lively record of 18th-century life and his own energetic personality.
27 October 2014
The way stories of rulers are told – like that of the Greek king Idomeneus – has changed over the course of history, determined by how society views them.
24 October 2014
Our quick guide to Martin Kušej's new production of Mozart's early masterpiece for The Royal Opera.
23 October 2014
Mozart movingly depicts four people driven to the limit in this exquisite Act III quartet – which the composer himself could never hear without weeping.
20 October 2014
We spoke to the conductor ahead of his Royal Opera debut conducting Mozart's early masterpiece, Idomeneo.