In the summer of 1780, Mozart received a commission from Munich to write an opera seria — a form of opera that catered to eighteenth-century tastes for stories with classical and mythological subjects and for musical scores that provided ample opportunities for bravura singing. Idomeneo, first performed at the Court Opera in Munich early in 1781, triumphantly reveals the young composer at the summit of his powers. Rather than the stereotypical score that was often little more than a thinly contrived excuse for exhibitionistic singing, Mozart’s music was rich in dramatic force and heroic emotion, with a new emphasis on choral singing and exceptionally full and elaborate scoring — qualities amply demonstrated in this authoritative full-score edition of the opera.
High drama asserts itself in the scene most crucial to the plot: caught in a storm at sea, King Idomeaeus of Crete has promised Neptune that if spared from imminent shipwreck he will sacrifice the first person he sees upon reaching land. As he touches shore, the first person the king sees is his son, Idamantes. The exciting drama that follows, brought to life by Mozart’s masterly score, will delight opera lovers, singers, musicians, and music students. Idomeneo is reprinted here from the authoritative full-score edition published by Breitkopf & Härtel.