Monday, 28 July 2008

134. Christoph Willibald Gluck - Iphigénie en Tauride (1779)


Title: Iphigénie en Tauride
Performers: Montague, Aler, Allen, Masis, Monteverdi Choir, Orchestre de L'Opéra de Lyon
Director: John Eliot Gardiner
Year: 1985
Length: 1 hour 50 minutes


This is the last Gluck opera we get on the list and it is by far the best of them, not only is the libretto considerably better, but musically and in terms of flow of the story Gluck managed to finally achieve his goals in the reformation of opera.

It is of course still an opera seria with obligatory Deus Ex Machina at the end, quite literally the goddess Diana saves the day. Still, the story is compelling even if it has tropes common to most opera seria.

The great thing about it, however, is how Gluck manages to make the action flow with almost no breaks in the music, the recitatives are accompanied by the orchestra instead of just an harpsichord as before, the arias are not da capo and the thing flows pretty well. Finally a Gluck opera I actually liked.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

With Iphigénie, Gluck took his operatic reform to its logical conclusion. The recitatives are shorter and they are récitatif accompagné (ie. the strings and perhaps other instruments are playing, not just continuo accompaniment). The normal dance movements that one finds in the French Tragédie are almost entirely absent. The drama is based on the play Iphigeneia in Tauris by the ancient Greek dramatist Euripides which deals with Greek mythological stories concerning the family of Agamemnon in the aftermath of the Trojan War.

The borrowings Gluck made in this, his last significant opera, are numerous, and many scholars feel that they constitute a "summing up" of the artistic ideals he pursued throughout his career as a composer. Most of the reused music is his own, culled from his earlier, Italian-language operas or from his ballet Semiramis (1765). The Act II music for the Furies, for example, adapts music from Gluck's ballet. In at least one case, however, an aria in Iphigénie en Tauride is actually Gluck borrowing from himself borrowing from Johann Sebastian Bach; the Act IV number for Iphigenia, "Je t'implore et je tremble," is a parody of "Perchè, se tanti siete" from Gluck's Antigono, which in turn uses material from the Gigue of the Partita no. 1 in B Flat (BWV 825) by Bach.

In 1847 Richard Wagner presented a revised version of Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride at the Dresden Court. Wagner edited, re-scored and revised the opera significantly including adding a different ending and some other passages of his own composition. Wagner's version of the opera was revived at the 1984 Waterloo Festival with Alessandra Marc as Iphigenia.

"Ô toi qui prolongeâs mes jours" and "O malheureuse Iphigénie":

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