By Iride Aparicio

Photos By: Pat Kirk


SILICON VALLEY --The Opera San José production of  the  opera  "IDOMENEO-KING of CRETE, " composed by Austrian Composer WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756-l791) that you will be able to watch on stream, at no charge, by clicking www.operasj.org from April 18, through May l8, 2020,  will be a unique  experience for the readers of CULTURAL WORLD BILINGUAL.


The spark of genius in this magnificent production, came from Arts Philanthropist DAVID W. PACKARD, Ph.D. a former professor and lifelong admirer of  MOZART, who holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University and is familiar with ancient Crete and the Minoan Culture.  Before the completion of what is now the California Theatre, he  approached the Late Opera San José founder and General Director IRENE DALIS and suggested  MOZART's  work, for the  opening of  the California Theatre (which he had financed in part). At a cost of 4 Million dollars, IDOMENEO was financed by a grant from the Packard Humanities Institute.  

Watchfully supervised by Dr. PACKARD, the Minoan and Mycenaean Bronze Age sets were designed by set designer STEVEN C. KEMP who copied pictures. to exactly replicate the original palaces' rooms with decorated walls and red and black pillars. The Costumes, 180 of them, were designed and sewn by Costume designer JOHANN STEGMEIR and wig designer JEANNA PARHAM created the wigs.  The actual artifacts from the epoch were  replicated, to enhance the "realism" on the stage. On the The night of September  5th 20ll, "IDOMENEO"  was presented on the Stage on the California Theatre, attended by many dignitaries from around the world and from San José. The production IDOMENEO was recognized by the press as stupendous.

From L-R   REBECCA  DAVIS as Princess Ilia, CHRISTOPHER BENGOCHE as King Idomeneo and AARON BLAKE as prince Idamante.

For the music, Opera San José used a larger orchestra and  hired GEORGE CLEVE  (1936-2015) a conductor whose name was synonymous with MOZART and was then the Director of the San Francisco's Midsummer Mozart Festival, which he had founded,  to conduct the opera. The ballet was choreographed by then Director of Ballet San José, DENNIS NAHAT.  The Stage director was BRAD  DALTON.

The principal singers were: tenor CHRISTOPHER BENGOCHEA, in the principal role of King Idomeneo. Tenor AARON BLAKE as prince Idamante. Soprano REBECCA DAVIS as Princess Ilia,CHRISTINA MAJOR as Princess Electra. Tenor MATHEW EDWARDSEN as The High Priest, and SILAS ELASH as the voice of ZEUS.

Set in the island of Crete, the opera relates the story of Idomeneo, the king of Crete, who returning home, after ten years fighting the Trojan War, when his ship sinks during a violent sea storm, promises Neptune (the Greek sea god) that if he lives, he will sacrifice. in his honor, the first person he sees after touching land. Unfortunately, that person is Prince Idamante, his only son.


The pleading Croatians surround the King (BENGOCHEA)

IDOMENEO was commissioned to MOZART by the Elector KARL THEODOR in Munich in l780. Because the characters in the opera change emotions often, MOZART used melodies and different orchestration to express the changes. The music is fascinating because the tempos in the arias and melodies change constantly.

"We are offering this video to the community on what would have been the opening night of  MOZART's the "Magic Flute," our season finale, cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions" says Opera San Jose General Director KHORI  DASTOOR, "We hope Second best to actually sitting in the beautiful California Theatre is reliving the highlight from our company rich history. We are reminded how important this work is, to both our company and the artistic community, as we celebrate this rarely performed masterpiece. This production truly encapsulates the artistry, musicality and experience of the dedicated professionals that OSJ's Artists and Musicians Relief Fund is currently supporting during  this unprecedented time."