It is one of his favorite pieces, and you can hear it too: Sir Simon Rattle conducts Mozart's "Idomeneo" at the Berlin State Opera Unter den Linden - three years late.
Already from bar two the first uncertainty.
The overture to Mozart's "Idomeneo" is usually a solemn show start.
Significance congealed to music, a sound image of the Cretan king.
It's different with Sir Simon Rattle, and that's because of the constant, unfamiliar double punctuation.
Even if you're not a score nerd: it sounds a bit frivolous, stubborn, a trick that undermines monarchical dignity.
And so it goes on this evening in the Staatsoper Unter den Linden.
The man in front, whose still mane is effectively illuminated, is an expressive extremist, especially in this piece, Mozart's richest, most revolutionary.
No wonder, at the Munich premiere in 1781, the young Wolfgang Amadé had what was then the world's best orchestra at his disposal.
For Rattle, this is an invitation to tinker with the details with relish.
The "Idomeneo" is one of his favorites and has been with him for a long time.
In 1987, for his debut with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, he conducted a performance for the ensemble annals.
Even during his time as head of the Berlin Philharmonic.
And a concert version is also planned for the BR Symphony Orchestra, which he will take over in the autumn.
After Haydn's "Creation" at the beginning of this new era and, shortly after the wedding night, Mahler's sixth, the "Tragic" - the Briton has a sense of humour.
In the autumn, Simon Rattle will be the head of the BR Symphony Orchestra and will also conduct an “Idomeneo” there.
© Astrid Ackermann
In Berlin, Rattle and the State Opera had to wait three years for their "Idomeneo".
Corona prevented the premiere, so everyone is now at work all the more excited.
At the podium of the small Staatskapelle, Rattle is a total maximalist.
Above all, he demonstrates how Mozart forces seemingly incompatible things together.
Here a wide-ranging, breathing cantilena, under it counteracting rumbling accompaniment or a mixture of colors that seems to run counter to it.
You can clearly hear how Mozart superimposes various gestures and states of aggregation, juxtaposes them and everything leads to an exciting togetherness.
It's not high school for a second, Rattle's Mozart is fun.
Also in the lyrical moments like in the second Ilia-Aria, a fragrant something with wonderful wind instruments correspondence.
For the choral scenes or Elettra's madness, Rattle has the right amount of fury.
And when Idomeneo's troops march up, Mozart writes a short march.
With Rattle and the Staatskapelle it becomes a wonderful filigree bobbin.
Do you hear something anti-militaristic there?
With David McVicar directing, Rattle has an easy time of it
But the truth is also: Sometimes the arias fall apart a bit.
There is not always a uniform basic tempo.
Then things get pretentious.
With increasing duration, the very long evening loses momentum.
And you shouldn't think about the music quake that Constantinos Carydis triggered in Munich's Prinzregententheater in 2021.
If it's Sturm und Drang, then Rattle conducts it, then as a delicacy.
It's easy for him in Berlin.
His interpretation penetrates the director's gaps unhindered.
David McVicar makes grand opera.
A skull watches over everyone and everything, the head of Neptune.
Otherwise there is a lot of symmetry and ritual.
When the sea storms, a fabric wall billows.
When the soul rages, dumb people in masks wring their hands.
When the monster rages over Crete, corpses wrapped in cloths are lowered into an opening into which the deposed Idomeneo also disappears at the end.
Very clean, very Far Eastern.
Where Mozart turns people inside out, McVicar relies on stereotypical gestures.
With Vicki Mortimer (stage) and Gabriella Dalton (costumes), the performance coagulates with the aesthetics of the Asian luxury market.
Occupied it is average to highly respectable, not outstanding.
Andrew Staples is a brightly timbred eponymous hero who lets his tenor sail through the game with ease on his breath.
What is missing is dramatic vehemence.
Olga Peretyatko as Elettra with diva gestures only pretends the latter.
As Ilia, Anna Prohaska has her soprano hardenings relatively well under control.
Magdalena Kozena seems underwhelmed as the haunting Idamante – as is well known, she is Rattle's wife and should also be present at the Munich performance.
In the one or the other aria can be omitted in favor of the concluding ballet music: one of Mozart's most exciting instrumental numbers is withheld from Berlin.