Tag: Gluck

Gluck – La Clemenza di Tito / Atelier Lyrique de Tourcoing 1987

You know how sometimes in life you feel a kind of obligation, out of thoroughness, to do a specific thing, and then as soon as you do it – sometimes even during – you discover that this is one of those things that need be done only once, if at all, and you will be quite content never to do it again?

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Clemenze di Tito (Clemenze di Titi?)

Apparently the libretto that Mozart used for La Clemenza di Tito – the one by Pietro Metastasio, with revisions for Mozart by Caterino Mazzolá – was one of those bike-share libretti of the eighteenth century, in the sense that pretty much everyone took a ride, if by everyone we understand Mozart, Gluck and Josef Mysliveček.

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Gluck – Orfeo ed Euridice / ROH 1991 (2)

(Previous section here.)

But Orfeo has not found a possum. I was thinking about this question a little more, and it occurs to me that Orfeo’s possum is probably related to the way the production often gives him a double, or has him switch costumes in such a way as to indicate that whatever it is he’s experiencing is not necessarily real.

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Gluck – Orfeo ed Euridice / ROH 1991 (1)

I wish I could give whoever manages our DVD collection about $5000 and a brain implant, because then we would have some fun as far as acquisitions are concerned. We would, for example, soon have a bright shiny new copy of that other version of this that has Kasarova in the title role. That said, the Orfeo here, Jochen Kowalski, is well worth hearing.   His voice doesn’t have that hooty quality I sometimes dislike in countertenors – it’s intense, expressive, technically very impressive singing. (And it inspired, on the part of one Amazon reviewer, a sentence that is still making me scratch my head: “this opera is all about Orfeo, and Kowolski sings with not a hint of pandering (he is, after all, a countertenor) and with searing intensity.” Are counter-tenors particularly known for not pandering? Is there a countertenor marching song, like the Marine Corps anthem, but instead of the “shores of Tripoli” it’s something about not pandering?)

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Gluck – Iphigénia en Tauride / Zurich Opera 2001 (3)

(Previous section here.)

The sound quality on this recording is not particularly great. It might be my computer or my stereo speakers (I don’t think it is, though) but there are moments when not-great sound turns into distorted/noisy sound. This tends to happen above certain pitch and volume levels – and this means that it tends to happen most to poor Juliette Galstian, who sings Iphigenia.

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Gluck – Iphigénie en Tauride / Zurich Opera 2001 (2)

(Previous section here.)

This production of Iphigénie en Tauride takes place in an enclosed space, a room with a wooden floor and dark wine-colored wallpaper. For Acts I and II there is a small picture up on the wall, of a sunset at sea. In Acts III and IV, the rear of the room is replaced by a section of the floor that curves up like a skateboard ramp but a little steeper. In the final scene, when Artemis has stopped the carnage and restored order, the rear section is replaced with a view of the sea – that same picture that was on the wall, but much larger.

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Gluck – Iphigénie en Tauride / Zurich Opera 2001 (1)

This is a Claus Guth production of one of Gluck’s best operas, staged at the Opernhaus Zurich in 2001. The story is both very conventional in one sense – it’s a Greek myth – and less so in another: it’s one of the few operas I can think of where the central character is female and the story is not about her falling into or out of love. How about that!

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Gluck – Alceste / Théâtre du Châtelet 2000 (3)

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But enough of the heavy stuff. This is a really beautiful performance of Gluck’s opera. All of the roles, from the herald (the same performer, Ludovic Tezier, sings the infernal god that Alceste and Admete converse with towards the end) to Evil Legolas the high priest/Hercules on upward are well worth hearing.

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Gluck – Alceste / Théâtre du Châtelet 2000 (2)

(Previous section here.)

In this production you hear a lot of the chorus, and the choral singing, by the Monteverdi Choir, is always exciting and expressive – this is evident immediately, in the very first scene, where a herald addresses the people and tells them that Admete is dying and they react with lamentations. But you don’t see the chorus. What you see instead are dancers.

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Gluck – Alceste / Théâtre du Châtelet 2000 (1)

The eighteenth century. Age of revolutions, the Enlightenment, a boom in the Atlantic slave trade and sometimes when people went to hear Gluck’s operas they ended the evening flopping about on the floor sobbing. These are probably some of the same people who read Werther and decided to blow their brains out in sympathy. Zeitgeist, I guess. Or maybe it was Klopstock. I really don’t know.

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