Set and costume designer
On the coast, sailors make their way ashore in the storm, begging the gods to show mercy. As the sea calms, Idomeneo appears. He has not drowned, as had been reported, but has been saved by Neptune, god of the sea, after vowing to sacrifice to him the first man that he comes across. That man turns out to be his own son, Idamante, who has come to the shore seeking solitude after hearing of his father’s death. Idomeneo is horrified that he must kill his son, and at first he does not reveal his identity. He finally does so, but Idamante—knowing nothing of the promise to Neptune—does not understand why his father pushes him away so harshly. The Cretans, meanwhile, praise Neptune for the return of their king.
By the harbor, Elettra and the people of Crete praise the calm seas as she prepares to leave. Idomeneo dismisses his son. Idamante (who still knows nothing of his father’s promise to Neptune) is heartbroken at such treatment, but he prepares to leave with Elettra. Before they can set sail, though, another storm arises and a sea monster appears. Idomeneo confesses that it was he who has caused the god’s displeasure by breaking his vow, but he will not sacrifice an innocent victim. The people run from the monster.
The High Priest of Neptune describes the destruction and death caused by the monster and demands that Idomeneo name the victim who must be sacrificed to appease Neptune. The king announces that the victim is his son, Idamante. The people are wracked with grief. The king and the priests prepare for the forthcoming sacrifice but are interrupted by news that Idamante has killed the monster. Idamante at last understands why his father has been cold to him: out of love, not hatred. He demands that the sacrifice proceed, as this is the price for peace in Crete. Ilia volunteers to take his place. But as Idomeneo is about to sacrifice his son, the voice of Neptune is heard proclaiming that if Idomeneo will step aside and yield the throne to Idamante and Ilia, the gods will be satisfied. Everyone rejoices except Elettra, who is horrified at the prospect of her beloved in the arms of her rival.
Idomeneo agrees to give up the throne to appease Neptune and pronounces his blessing on the union of his son with the Trojan princess. The people celebrate the happy couple.
4 hours 15 minutes, with two intermissions
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