This short season of Mozart’s early operatic gem is a real treat for Melbourne, where Idomeneo has rarely been performed, and such handsomely staged productions have become a rarity.

An opera seria predecessor to the composer’s more modern major hits such as The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni, Idomeneo has not, I believe, been seen in Melbourne since the long lost Victoria State Opera’s production in 1977*. So this is a very welcome first co-production by Opera Australia, whose fully staged operas in Melbourne have dwindled to nothing, and Victorian Opera, whose production budgets are obviously much less than that of the national company.

The 2023 Victorian Opera/Opera Australia production of Mozart’s Ideomeneo. Photo © Charlie Kinross

Premiering in Munich in 1781, Idomeneo is set in Crete in the aftermath of the Trojan War. The title character is the island’s king who, during a storm at sea, vows to Neptune that he will sacrifice the first person he sees should he make it to land. That turns out to be his son, Idamante, whom he avoids while prevaricating about what to do, even when a sea monster sent by the angry...