King Idomeneo is returning from his victory in the Trojan war when a great storm destroys his ship. Desperate to save his own life, he begs the god Neptune to spare him, and Neptune asks him for a sacrifice in return: the first living person that Idomeneo sees when he reaches the shore.
Back in Crete, reports of the wreckage of his father’s ship have brought Idamante to the sea’s edge to see if his father is alive. A fatal reunion on the shore seals Idamante’s fate. His own father must sacrifice him to appease the god of the sea.
Nothing can prevent this destiny. Sending Idamante away will not work, as he would have to travel by sea. Impatient for his sacrifice, Neptune sends a great monster to attack the people of Crete and force Idomeneo to fulfil his oath. Only the pure heart of Princess Ilia can prevent the fatal blow from striking Idamante, as love and innocent triumph over all.
Mozart’s operatic retelling of this ancient story is full of powerful emotions, as people struggle to do what they are bound to by duty over what their own hearts desire.
Idomeneo guide sections