“It’s just heavenly music.”
“It’s shocking to me that it’s not done more often,” declares soprano Janai Brugger, who adores Idomeneo. She’s captivated by the story, the music, and the characters’ nobility. “If you love jealousy and revenge plots, gorgeous music, politics, love, and all that stuff,” she says with a laugh, “you get a little of everything in this opera.” She’s excited to return to the role of the Trojan Princess Ilia, who she portrayed at DePaul University.
Ilia’s father has been defeated by the Cretans in the Trojan War. “She’s lost her home and family, she’s a prisoner, and she happens to be in love” with her enemy and captor, Prince Idamante, son of King Idomeneo, Janai notes. “Ilia is extremely distraught and conflicted at the beginning. You find out through the rest of the opera how she deals with that struggle. At the very end she does something quite amazing, and shows that she is a strong, gracious, selfless individual full of love, full of hope, full of passion – very noble, very wise, and able to forgive.”
Janai compares Ilia to Turandot’s Liù (her Lyric debut role in January) and to The Magic Flute’s Pamina. “Liù is a strong and selfless character who puts herself out there to try to make things right. Pamina is pure and wise and young and beautiful and also a princess. She reminds me of Ilia as well, with her conflict between her loyalty to her family and her newfound love, and also her [eventual] appreciation of her enemy.”
And the music? She calls it one of Mozart’s “most beautiful operas. Out of all the Mozart roles I’ve been fortunate enough to sing thus far in my career, I find that the music for Ilia is absolutely stunning, with some of the most beautiful recitative I’ve ever heard. It’s just heavenly music. It’s gorgeous – not just for Ilia but for all the characters in this opera There are so many amazing duets – her love duet with Idamante in the third act is absolutely stunning, as well as the quartet. Everything is just stunningly put together, which is classic Mozart. I love musical line, I love seeing the arc of where it starts and where it ends.”
Janai is deeply moved “by the beauty of this true bond between this father and son, Idomeneo and Idamante, and what they both do out of pure love for each other. It is absolutely beautiful to see. The set is timeless and beautiful, and the costumes – you feel like you’re transported back in time. I think people will really enjoy it.”
It’s been 21 years since Idomeneo was last performed here. How exciting for Lyric audiences to discover (or rediscover) this seminal work by a beloved and familiar composer this fall!