Salzburg opera season opens with Mozart's 'Idomeneo' and climate plea



SALZBURG, AUSTRIA, Georg Etscheit and Albert Otti (dpa)- Mozart's "Idomeneo" as a parable for climate change and for youth activism was feted as the first opera premiere of this year's Salzburg Festival on Saturday.
Staged by US star director Peter Sellars, the evening ended with massive applause.



Greek conductor Teodor Currentzis lead the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra in an energetic, strongly emotional performance.
In "Idomeneo," which Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed at the age of 24, "the humans are always blaming the gods, blaming the stars, and claiming that nature is cruel instead of getting the message," Sellars said earlier in the festival's keynote speech.
The opera tells the ancient story of king Idomeneo, who makes a pact with the god of the sea and ends up being obliged to sacrifice his own son.
Among the singers, Chinese soprano Ying Fang as Ilia and US soprano Nicole Chevalier as Elettra made the biggest impressions, outshining the male cast, including US tenor Russell Thomas in the title role.
Sellars had delivered the festival's opening speech earlier on Saturday, in which he urged not only young people but also artists to become key players in protecting our climate and our oceans. 
"There comes a time when we need new stories and when it is no longer acceptable to repeat the appalling cycle of human failure," he told the audience at the festival that draws government and business leaders from around the world each year.
"It is now time to welcome a new generation of creators, activists, repairers, restorers, and healers," he added.
His cast also includes dancer Arikitau Tentau from the Pacific island country of Kiribati, which is threatened by rising ocean levels.
Sellars' "Idomeneo" is his second collaboration with unconventional maestro Currentzis at the festival. In 2017, they presented Mozart's "La clemenza di Tito," as a lesson on migration and terrorism.
Like "Idomeneo," other new opera productions in Salzburg this year are also based on Greek mythology. They include a portrayal of the iconic female figure Medea, in "Medee" by Mozart's contemporary Luigi Cherubini, as well as the 1936 opera "Oedipe" by George Enescu, a take on the Oedipus myth. 
The Salzburg Festival in Mozart's birth town is one of the world's biggest performing arts events. It offers 42 opera and 55 theatre performances until the end of August, as well as 81 concerts.
The festival will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year.
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Sunday, July 28th 2019
Georg Etscheit and Albert Otti (dpa)
           


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