Thursday, 3 July 2008

120. Christoph Willibald Gluck - Orfeo ed Euridice (1762)


Title: Orfeo Ed Euridice
Performers: Derek Lee Ragin, Sylvia McNair, Cyndia Sieden, Monteverdi Choir
Director: John Eliot Gardiner
Year: 1991
Length: 1 hour 25 minutes


Works which are this revolutionary and this transitional do not come frequently, however they are often not that impressive, except for their innovations. So this isn't among the best classical operas, but it is braving the path that will lead to them.

That is not to say that there aren't great moments here, there are, and the highlight goes to Che Fero Senza Euridice?, a tune maybe a little too jaunty for its subject matter, but a great tune nevertheless.

Where Gluck really excels is in revolutionising opera, gone are the long da capo arias, gone are the long recitatives that break the pace of the opera, everything flows much closer now, aria going into accompanied recitative, flowing into aria. The choir has a much greater part to play, and there are no distracting sub-plots. However the music itself sounds very transitional, there are many elements of baroque and plenty of classical elements popping their heads through the music. This is the right direction for opera, but it needs some development, don't worry, we'll get there.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

Gluck's reforms, which began with Orfeo ed Euridice, have had significant influence throughout operatic history. Gluck's ideals heavily influenced the popular works of Mozart, Wagner, and Weber, with Wagner's Gesamtkunstwerk vision especially influenced by that of Gluck. Old-style opera seria and the domination of embellishment-orientated singers came to be increasingly unpopular after the success of Gluck's operas as a whole and Orfeo in particular. In Orfeo ed Euridice the orchestra is far more predominant than in earlier opera, most notably in Orfeo's arioso "Che puro ciel". Here the voice is reduced to the comparatively minor role of recitative-style declamation, while the oboe carries the main melody, supported by solos from the flute, cello, bassoon, and horn. There is also accompaniment from the strings (playing in triplets) and the continuo in the most complex orchestration that Gluck ever wrote.

Janet Baker Does Che Faro:

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