Dieter Dorn’s production of Idomeneo, filmed at the Bayerisches Staatsoper in 2008 has some interesting ideas and some arresting images but ultimately it’s hard to figure out where he is trying to go. There’s a lot to like. He clearly places Elettra as a member of the House of Atreus which makes her more believable. He also creates credible personalities for Ilea, Idamante, idomeneo and Arbace. No mean feat. Some of the images are quite arresting too. There is lots of blood and plenty of stage action. The sets are chaotic piles of stuff. Idamante gets a killer sea monster hunting rig. Then there is the ending. Instead of finishing on the “final chorus” the chorus drape the set with white sheets and for ten minutes the orchestra play what is listed in the booklet as a ballet but there is noone on stage and nothing is happening. Going out on ten minutes of the most boring music in the opera is just bizarre.
Hans Werner Henze conceived of L’Upupa und der Triumph der Sohnesliebe as his farewell to the stage although, as it turned out, it wasn’t. It’s a combination of Arabian Nights type themes crossed with elements from German folklore not unlike Die Zauberflöte, which is an obvious infuence. So obvious, in fact, that in the scene where Kasim rescues his beloved she is given a line straight out of Schikaneder. For the 2003 world premiere in the Kleinesfestspielhaus in Salzburg, director Dieter Dorn and designer Jürgen Rose chose a simple stage concept. The action is encircled by an arch, at the apex of which is a tower room. The old man, the ruler of the principality, inhabits the room. The action mostly takes place in brightly coloured scenes under the arch.