Mozart: Idomeneo

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LABELS: Glyndebourne
WORKS: Idomeneo
PERFORMER: Gundula Janowitz, Luciano Pavarotti, Neilson Taylor, Enriqueta Tarrés, Richard Lewis, Dennis Wicks; Glyndebourne Chorus; London PO/John Pritchard


This latest in the series of live performances from Glyndebourne’s archives has presumably been issued due to the presence of two singers who were barely known in 1964, but quickly became big names. Gundula Janowitz as Ilia already shows her artistry fully formed, displaying a kind of generalised loveliness that made her many fans, though some people wished she would use her voice more expressively instead of cultivating tone.

More spectacularly, I suppose, there is Luciano Pavarotti, here showing great security of technique, even if it sounds as if he would rather be singing 19th-century Italian opera. He went on singing in this opera, moving from Idamante, which is now usually sung by a mezzo, to his father Idomeneo, which he recorded, also with John Pritchard.

They were his only Mozart roles, and one sees – or hears – why. Actually the most characterful and attractive singing on this recording comes from Richard Lewis in the title role. A singer of great versatility and with a most appealing voice, he has been scandalously under-rated and this is a fitting tribute to him at his peak.


Idomeneo was still, in 1964, a comparatively little-performed opera, and there are innumerable cuts, from whole arias to segments of recitative and ensemble. Having endured the longueurs of Glyndebourne’s every-last-note production of 2003, I find them welcome. Michael Tanner