Opera San Jose takes on ambitious 'Idomeneo'

SAN JOSE, Calif.

The temple wall weighs 12,000 pounds. It has authentic designs on the murals and is a replication of the real places on Crete for opera San Jose's production of Mozart's "Idomeneo".

"This production has tested the limits of our company in every possible direction," said general manager Larry Hancock.

They have a cast of more than 70, 180 costumes, 127 wigs, and the enormous set is something to see. The production is Mozart's first dramatic masterpiece and he did something rather unique. He wrote two versions of it. Opera San Jose will do both versions with two separate casts.

Tenor Aaron Blake and mezzo-soprano Betany Coffland play the same role -- the king's son.

"I have a strong belief that emotions and passion aren't connected to one sex or the another," said Coffland.

"When we are going about staging, which is putting a scene on its feet, we share that process as well," said Blake.

The production costs $3 million and Opera San Jose couldn't have done it without the support of David Packard, who hired archeologists to help the look.

"Everything that was designed, from earrings to temple faces, went to the panel of archeologists for authenticity and if they said it didn't past muster, it had to be redesigned," said Hancock.

"Idomeneo" opens Sept. 10 for eight performances.

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