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The Trojan War was such an important historical event that it became one of the main motives of the past 2800 years of European cultural history; its episodes and characters inspired thousands of artists. Thus, a work connected to this gigantic war cannot be missing from the historical premiers of the Hungarian State Opera’s 2022/23 season dedicated to Myth and History. After a hiatus of almost fifty years, a new production of Mozart’s Idomeneo staged by András Almási-Tóth premieres at the Opera House on 13 May 2023.

Idomeneo, re di Creta tells the story of the tired king returning from the Trojan War and the people of Crete as they are life threateningly exposed to the uncontrollable forces of nature. It is a unique piece within Mozart’s theatrical oeuvre. There is no other work written by the composer in which he uses the orchestra just the same way, and in which the chorus is given such significance. The orchestra depicts the almost maddeningly undulating sea and the storm. And the choral scenes, unusually monumental and significant for the composer, give a picturesque description of the devastating power of infinite terror.

In his production, András Almási-Tóth emphasizes the fight between nature and humanity in a modern context, in which a metropolis is flooded by the sea and nature devours urban life and the human space. “From a psychological point of view, it is one a particularly sensitive and diverse story,” states the director. "Idomeneo is about what it is like when centuries our existence, a sophisticated human culture built up over thousands of years is threatened. Suddenly, we are faced with the most basic questions: life, death, survival, and destruction. In the high-tech environment we have created around us, we often forget to think about what the meaning of our lives is.” To evoke the atmosphere of dystopian sci-fi films, the creative team includes set designer Sebastian Hannak, costume designer Richárd Márton, choreographer Noémi Kulcsár, lighting designer Tamás Pillinger, and video artist Zsombor Czeglédi, all well-established artists responsible for numerous successful productions in recent years. The cast includes internationally renowned soloists Szabolcs Brickner and Emőke Baráth, they are joined by Gabriella Balga, Zsuzsanna Ádám / Laura Topolánszky, all of whom have also been praised by critics. The Hungarian State Opera Orchestra is conducted by Balázs Kocsár.

The new production is presented as part of the Festival of Myths organised between 29 April and 30 June 2023 along with the revivals of Elektra and Ariadne auf Naxos by R. Strauss, and Iphigenie auf Tauris by Gluck, all of which had to be missed during the reconstruction of the historic Opera House in Budapest. The festival also features a symphonic concert featuring Emőke Baráth and the Hungarian State Opera Orchestra as well as a song recital by Julia Lezhneva and pianist Pavel Nersessian with programmes tying in with the theme of the two-month event.

Photo: Valter Berecz