(I've been playing with screen captures. So if you're feeling visually inclined, you can see an illustrated version here.)
My new Idomeneo is, well, odd, to say the least. Bad Minoan wigs abound. The chorus was last seen in Life of Brian. Idamante (sung by a tenor, Jerry Hadley, with a blonde topknot) looks about twelve years old, and has just one 'acting' technique: shaking his head slowly from side to side while he sings. This expresses joy, anguish, anger, disbelief, resignation and more, apparently. Continuing the Monty Python theme, Idomeneo (Philip Langridge) looks suspiciously like Terry Jones from a distance. Elettra is one seriously frightening Carol Vaness in best soap opera bitch mode (sounding fantastic I might add). Yvonne Kenny's Ilia is a ray of sunshine, however, transcending an ugly production, clumsy direction and a terrible blonde wig. Idamante should be pinching himself in disbelief at somehow having won the heart of this goddess. She even sheds tears at the end of 'Zeffiretti lusinghieri', a feat of acting which far outdoes anything managed by the rest of the cast.
Singing-wise, the production is really quite successful. I didn't - and still don't - much like the idea of a tenor singing Idamante; it was even weirder when Jerry Hadley broke into 'Ch'io mi scordi di te...Non temer, amato bene'. Leaving all that aside, though, he did sing rather well. So did everybody else, more or less. But the only truly remarkable performances were from Carol and Yvonne. Carol is the Elettra on the Deutsche Grammophon Idomeneo too, but I think I liked her better in this one. She's frightening and thrilling and fabulous; although perhaps slightly less convincing in moments of anguish. Gorgeous though. And Yvonne, déesse that she is, just shines. I tell you, the woman can do no wrong. Just when I thought Handel was her one true home, she comes along and proves herself equally destined for Mozart, so perfectly silvery and beautiful. A sort of Catherine Deneuve for the ears, if that makes sense. (It probably doesn't.) One probably could live quite happily without this Idomeneo; but as for living without Yvonne's Ilia, well, I for one am unwilling to try.