Gluck, Christoph Willibald


Gluck, Christoph Willibald

Iphigénie en Tauride (with German and French libretto)

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Christoph Willibald (Ritter von) Gluck – Iphigénie en Tauride

(Erasbach near Berching, July 2, 1714 – died Vienna, November 15, 1787)

„My luck, my friend, where`s the rock heart,
That your immoral song doesn`t melt? […] My pride is that you also belong to the people
To which I belong; immediately feel it
Not as warm as it should be, your worth.“ 1

Iphigénie en Tauride is one of Gluck`s reform operas, in which he strives for „the greatest expression and strengthening of the declamation of poetry“ 2 with the aim of „creating music suitable for all nations.“3 Gluck, together with the poet Ranieri Calzabigi (1714-1795), went for a profound renewal of the genre opera. Libretto and composition became equivalent, the music served as a support or background for the drama, which contained „human drama, passions, strokes of fate and prehistoric feelings“.4 Simple, short, song-linke chants replaced virtuoso arias, the upper voices gained freedom, and the idea of a ballet for a action was introduced. In doing so, Gluck released music theater „from the dependence of courtly representation“ and led it into a „humanistic view“.5 Through Gluck`s contracts with the Paris Opera (including Iphigénie en Tauride), his concept of the reform opera found widespread use and gained great influence on subsequent composers such as Carl Maria von Weber and Richard Wagner, who saw Gluck`s operas as the key to modern music theater.

Gluck created Iphigénie en Tauride as a commission for the Académie Royale de Musique in Paris. In addition to Gluck, Niccoló Piccini, an proponent of Italian opera, had also received the same order. With the recommendation of Queen Marie Antoinette of France, Gluck`s opera was the first to be premiered, which decided the composition controversy in favor of Gluck. The printing of the score soon afterwards and the 42 performances of the opera in the same season as well as positive press reviews speak for the strong appeal that the work found in France. The lack of ballets was viewed critically, whereupon Francois-Joseph Gossec (1734-1829) received the commission from the Académie Royale Francois to produce a ballet, which was included in the sixth performance. The French Iphigénie was played over 400 times in the Acádemie Royale until 1829. …


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