A Mozart premiere

June 01, 2006|By TIM SMITH | TIM SMITH,SUN MUSIC CRITIC

Fans of 17th- and 18th-century music will find much to consider in the days ahead, including the U.S. premiere of a baroque opera by Cavalli and, this weekend, a rare performance of the original version of Mozart's Idomeneo.

It was with Idomeneo that Mozart first revealed just how great an opera composer he would become. This tale of love, duty, sacrifice and monsters in post-Trojan War Crete contains some of his most compelling and vividly orchestrated music.

Just before the 1781 premiere in Munich, Mozart made a lot of cuts to the opera, and it is this self-edited version of the score that will be performed in concert form by Opera Lafayette at the Clarice Smith Center in College Park.

This remarkable company, which uses an excellent orchestra of period instruments for added stylistic authenticity, has revived several great works from the past in recent seasons. The presentation of Idomeneo, led by company founder Ryan Brown, promises to be another memorable ear-opener.

Even though the performance will not be staged, there will be a visual element provided by the New York Baroque Dance Company, directed by Catherine Turocy.

That visual component will be used to underline the heated drama of the plot, which revolves around the Cretan king Idomeneo, who, saved from drowning at sea, vows to sacrifice the first person he meets to the god Neptune. As luck (or the gods) would have it, that first person turns out to be Idomeneo's own son.

Brown, who believes that Mozart's cuts in the opera "make the drama more direct," will lead a cast headed by tenor Robert Breault as Idomeneo and Stephanie Houtzeel as the king's son Idamante (originally a castrato role). Also appearing in the performance will be soprano Kirsten Blaise as Ilia, daughter of King Priam, and soprano Millicent Scarlett as Elettra, daughter of Agamemnon.

You can get insights into the opera and the preparations for this performance on Brown's own blog, which is posted on the Clarice Smith Center Web site: www.claricesmithcenter .umd.edu.

tim.smith@baltsun.com

Washington Early Music Festival Highlights

Opera Lafayette

performs Mozart's Idomeneo at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday at Clarice Smith Center, University of Maryland, Route 193 and Stadium Drive, College Park. Tickets are $7 to $45.

Folger Consort

performs music by Marenzio and Morley at 8 p.m. tomorrow, 5 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday at Folger Shakespeare Library, 201 E. Capitol St., S.E., Washington. Tickets are $28. Call 202-544--7077 or visit folger.edu.

Ignoti Dei Opera

performs U.S. premiere of Cavalli's La Didone at 8 p.m. June 16 and 17, 2:30 p.m. June 18 at Greenberg Theatre, American University, 4200 Wisconsin Ave. N.W., Washington. Tickets are $35 to $45. Call 202-885-2587.

Suspicious Cheese Lords

performs music of the Italian Renaissance at 8 p.m. June 21 at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 301 A St., S.E., Washington. Tickets are $15 and $20, available at the door.

Tempesta di Mare

performs Renaissance and Baroque Italian music at 6:30 p.m. June 25 at the National Gallery of Art, 401 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington. Free.

More information: www.earlymusicdc.org

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