Saturday, September 26, 2020

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Idomeneo

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Idomeneo doesn’t have the performance history in the United States that many of Mozart’s other operas do. But it’s nevertheless an exquisite work that goes far beyond the confines of opera seria and shows Mozart’s innate genius for bringing emotional depth, passion and subtle characterizations to his stage works.

Local opera lovers had a rare opportunity to see Mozart’s 1781 masterpiece last week when the University of Utah’s Lyric Opera Ensemble and the Paradigm Chamber Orchestra joined forces once again and collaborated in the Utah premiere of Idomeneo. The costumed and staged production was under the baton of Joel Rosenberg, and stage director Anthony Buck made good use of the limited physical resources in Libby Gardner Concert Hall in his well conceived and executed staging.

For years, Robert Breault’s opera ensemble has been a remarkable pool of young talent. And year in and year out, these versatile singers haven’t disappointed, no matter what they’ve performed. And they certainly outdid themselves in many ways with Idomeneo.

The story of Idomeneo takes place in Crete immediately after the Trojan War and deals with Idomeneo’s dilemma after vowing to sacrifice the first person he sees upon his safe arrival home, not knowing, of course, that it would be his son Idamante who first greets him.

The leads were double cast. At Friday’s show, David Sauer gave a thoughtful account of the title character. His singing and acting brought depth to his role. He has a fine voice that’s well suited to Mozart; he brought lyricism and, when needed, power to his portrayal.

No less impressive was Kelly Southworth as Idamante. She imbued her characterization with heartfelt sincerity. She, too, possesses a voice that is made for Mozart, and her singing Friday was expressive and tempered with finely crafted lyricism.

Whitney Kimball, as the Trojan princess Ilia, was also in fine voice, singing with clarity and wonderfully drawn phrasings.

Particularly impressive was Daysha Lassiter in the role of Elettra. She has a dramatic voice with power and depth that is also gorgeously expressive. And her acting talent is on the same level as her vocal chops. She gave a stunning and memorable portrayal that truly stood out.

The large chorus was also magnificent, and added much to the overall success of the production, as did Garrett Medlock, Keanu Netzler and Seth Keeton in minor roles.

The Paradigm Chamber Orchestra had another fine outing, playing with clarity and depth.

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