Ilia Louise Alder
Idamante Caitlin Hulcup
Elettra Rebecca von Lipinski
Arbace Timothy Robinson
Idomeneo Toby Spence
High Priest Robert Murray
Neptune Nicholas Masters
Cretans Annabel Mountford, Hazel McBain, Elizabeth Lynch
Trojans Bradley Smith, Benjamin Lewis
Conductor Tobias Ringborg
Director Tim Albery
Designer Hannah Clark
Garsington Opera Orchestra and Chorus
Ilia, daughter of the defeated King Priam of Troy, is among the Trojan prisoners being held captive on Crete. Her father and brothers have been killed in the war. She is torn between her hatred of the Cretan enemy and the growing love that she struggles to suppress for Idamante, the ruler of Crete in the absence of his father Idomeneo, who has been away for ten years at the war. As well as despising her own feelings for Idamante, Ilia fears that he loves Elettra, daughter of Agamemnon.
Idamante confesses his love to Ilia and proceeds to free her and the other Trojan prisoners, but she professes to hate him. Arbace arrives with news of the returning Idomeneo's death in a storm at sea. Elettra, who had hoped that Idomeneo would approve her marriage to Idamante, is desparing, especially when she observes his love for Ilia.
Idomeneo has survived the storm by vowing to the sea-god Neptune that he will sacrifice the first person he meets on reaching land. Idamante, looking for survivors of the shipwreck, comes across his father, but the ten-year separation means that neither recognises the other. Idomeneo knows only that, in accordance with his vow, this young stranger must be the promised sacrifice. The truth of each other's identity gradually dawns on them and Idomeneo pushes his son away in despair, leaving Idamante bewildered and unhappy. The people of Crete celebrate the safe return of the fleet.
Idomeneo confesses to Arbace that he must kill his own son. Arbace advises him to order Idamante to accompany Elettra back to her homeland, Argos. With Idamante out of the way, another means can be found to placate the angry gods.
Ilia comes to make her peace with Idomeneo, asking him to take the place of her dead father. Idomeneo, however, realising that Idamante and Ilia are in love with each other, fears that Neptune will be revenged on all three of them, for the breaking of his vow and for Idamante's freeing of the Trojan prisoners.
Elettra is thrilled to be leaving Crete with Idamante, certain that she will be able to win his love, once he is separated from Ilia. But before their ship can sail, a violent storm erupts and a plague emerges form the seas. As death breaks out amongst them, the Cretans cannot understand why they are being so punished. Idomeneo declares that he is to blame and offers himself as a hostage to the gods.
Idamante says goodbye to Ilia: he is determined to go and destroy the monster that is devouring his people, and he does not expect to survive. At last Ilia confesses her love for him. THe couple's happiness is interrupted by the arrival of Elettra and Idomeneo, who orders his son to leave Crete immediately, without revealing to him the reason for his apparently unloving behaviour.
Arbace laments the disaster that has fallen on Crete. The High Priest forces Idomeneo to confront the devastation of the island. Idomeneo at last admits that it is his own son, Idamante, who must be sacrificed.
As the sacrificial ceremony is being prepared, sounds of rejoicing are heard; Idamante has deafeated the monster. The young man now realises that his father's desire to be rid of him was an expression of love and not of hatred, a desparate attempt to avoid killing him. He accepts that he must die in order to fulfil his father's vow.
Idomeneo is about to kill his son when Ilia demands that she, as an enemy of Crete, should be sacrificed instead. At this, Neptune intervenes, declaring that love has triumphed: Idomeneo must give up his throne and install Idamante as the new ruler, with Ilia at his side. Elettra rages at the foundering of her hopes. Idomeneo commends Idamante and Ilia to the people.