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CCM Opera Presents Mozart’s Heroic Greek Tragedy, 'Idomeneo'

The first operatic masterpiece from a young genius, 'Idomeneo' runs at UC's College-Conservatory of Music on March 30-April 2.

Date: 3/13/2017 12:00:00 AM
By: Becky Butts
Phone: (513) 556-2675
Other Contact: Curt Whitacre
Other Contact Phone: (513) 556-2683
Photos By: Marcus Shields

UC ingot  
A model of the scenic design for CCM's production of 'Idomeneo.'
A model of the scenic design for CCM's production of 'Idomeneo.'

The Opera Department at UC's College-Conservatory of Music presents an epic tale of love, war and sacrifice March 30-April 2 in Patricia Corbett Theater. Hailed as Mozart’s first great opera seria, Idomeneo takes place in the aftermath of the fabled Trojan War.

Artist Diploma student Marcus Shields directs the CCM's production of Idomeneo. Teetering on the edge between student and professional, Shields finds that he and the cast have a lot in common with Mozart, who composed this opera at the ripe young age of 25.

“This is essentially Mozart’s graduate thesis on the world,” says Shields. “It’s an amazing thing that he wrote this when he was 25, and we should be humbled by that fact. We’re all in the exact same place. In writing this challenging opera, Mozart was trying to prove himself — just like we are now.”

Idomeneo is a classic story of unrequited love, sacrifice and revenge. The plot revolves around King Idomeneo who is lost at sea during his journey home from war. To survive, he strikes a deal with vengeful god Neptune, but the king is then faced with an impossible decision — to sacrifice his entire nation or his son, Idamante. The King banishes his son from the kingdom, which separates the young prince from the two women who are in love with him.

While Idomeneo might not be as familiar as Mozart’s Cosí fan tutte, The Magic Flute or The Marriage of Figaro, the opera is just as exciting and inspired, Shields says. The work mostly adheres to the opera seria structure, which is known for its formulaic librettos and serious tone. However, Mozart “shatters the genre” in Idomeneo.

“The music is so amazing and virtuosic,” says Shields, “Mozart’s tap-dancing as hard as he can as he fights against the typical opera seria structure. It seems a bit stuffier on the outside because of the genre but it’s actually way more urgent and young.”

Mozart’s quest to infuse his own style in opera seria is similar to Shields’ unique vision for CCM’s production of Idomeneo. The opera is not set in a specific time period and has an abstract set, with lighting effects and costumes by CCM’s Theatre Design and Production Department. Shields uses costumes to represent the great division the characters feel from each other. Some cast members don stiff button-up coats reminiscent of the late eighteenth century and others wear full Greco-Roman attire.

“We are using the lighting, costumes and set to show people how to actually listen to the music,” Shields says. “It’s a beautiful harmonization of everything that this school can do.”

CCM's production of Idomeneo is conducted by Assistant Professor of Music Aik Khai Pung, it is sung in Italian with English supertitles.

Composed by W.A. Mozart
Libretto by Giovanni Battista Varesco
Aik Khai Pung, conductor
Marcus Shields, director

Performance Times
8 p.m. Thursday, March 30
8 p.m. Friday, March 31
8 p.m. Saturday, April 1
2 p.m. Sunday, April 2

Patricia Corbett Theater, CCM Village
University of Cincinnati

Purchasing Tickets
Tickets to Idomeneo are $31-35 for adults, $22-25 for non-UC students and $18-21 for UC students with a valid ID. Tickets can be purchased in person at the CCM Box Office, over the telephone at 513-556-4183 or online at

Parking and Directions
Parking is available in the CCM Garage (located at the base of Corry Boulevard off Jefferson Avenue) and additional garages throughout the UC campus. Additional parking is available off-campus at the U Square complex on Calhoun Street and other neighboring lots. Please visit for more information on parking rates.

For detailed maps and directions, please visit

For directions to CCM Village, visit

CCM Season Presenting Sponsor and Musical Theatre Program Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation

Mainstage Season Production Sponsor: Macy’s