Gluck‘s wonderful but neglected 1774 opera Iphigénie en Tauride, inspired by the Greek legend, is treated with forceful and convincing simplicity in Klaus Guth‘s revolutionary production staged at the Zurich Opera House. The psychological drama in a tense atmosphere of fears and traumas is underlined by Guth‘s use of huge masks and enclosed spaces. Conductor William Christie and his typically transparent but never cold orchestral sound perfectly match the descriptive elements in Gluck’s score, while the Armenian mezzosoprano Juliette Galstian as a fabulously good Iphigénie, the leading American opera baritone Rodney Gilfry as Oreste and the deceased South African tenor Deon van der Walt as Pylade head a superb cast.
"Die Sängerinnen und Sänger haben allesamt sehr intensiv an den Koloraturen gearbeitet und sind den teils horrenden Schwierigkeiten der Arien gut gewachsen … Außerdem sind die Rezitative mit hohem Konversationstempo und fantasievoller Generalbass-Improvisation umgesetzt." ~FonoForum
One of the brightest stars in the 20th-century operatic firmament, the Pennsylvania-born soprano Anna Moffo (1932–2006) enjoyed a meteoric rise in the 1950s and 1960s that saw her conquer all the major opera houses in Europe and America. After making her Metropolitan Opera début in 1959 as Violetta in La traviata, she went on to appear with the company in 200 performances of 21 roles over a total of 18 seasons, before finally singing her last complete performance – once again as Verdi’s Violetta – and retiring from the stage in 1976. Specially released to mark the 10th anniversary of Anna Moffo’s death, Sony Classical releases for the first time, newly mastered from the original analogue tapes using 24bit/96kHz technology.
Two late and baleful tragedies by Euripides focus on the ill-starred daughter of the Greek King, Agamemnon. Will he sacrifice Iphigenia in order to secure fair winds for his voyage to Troy? In Aulis, the drama rages until she is spared. Having escaped to Tauris, Iphigenia finds herself compelled to kill her own brother before, once more, the fickle gods intervene.
Though Gluck is recognised as one of the pivotal figures in opera, his output is still under-represented on disc. This recording of L'Innocenza Giustificata (Innocence Justified) fills one of the gaps; it has only been released once before, in a live performance from Italy that is comprehensively superseded by this new studio version, played on period instruments with a specialist chorus and a line-up of soloists every one of whom seems to understand this musical world instinctively.
With “Ezio”, composed one year after his pioneering “Orfeo”, Gluck composed an opera seria that cannot be classified to the Gluck reform operas. Based on a libretto by Metastasio, “Ezio” premiered on December 26, 1763 at the Vienna Burgtheater. Although the opera partakes of traditional opera seria methods, an approach that reflects a new aesthetic is also perceptible, such as the tightening of the da capo arias and reduction of the overture to a one-movement sinfonia. In 2007, the orchestra of the Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspiele took a further step in the direction of stylistic authenticity and musical refinement, making it one of Europe’s top ensembles in the area of 18th century music.
British countertenor Iestyn Davies is one of the fastest rising stars on the concert and opera circuit. Following his highly acclaimed recording of Porpora cantatas, he returns for a second solo album with Hyperion, a selection of arias written for Gaetano Guadagni. Italian-born Guadagni was the first ‘modern’ castrato, famed all over Europe for the lyric purity of his voice and his powerful, naturalistic acting style. Not only did he enjoy a close artistic relationship with Handel, who nurtured Guadagni’s voice to fit the alto roles in his English oratorios, but he effectively created the role of Orpheus in Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, an opera he thoroughly made his own. Here, Iestyn Davies is joined again by the renowned period-instrument band Arcangelo, directed by Jonathan Cohen.
'Iphigenie en Aulide' was the opera with which Gluck set out to conquer the lyric stage in Paris in April 1774. France was the only country to resist the fashion for Italian opera that prevailed everywhere else in civilised Europe in the first half of the 18th century and to develop instead its own national form of serious opera, the tragedie lyrique. As an acknowledged master of theItalian manner, therefore, Gluck's appearance in Paris was bound to be controversial… He had a useful ally in Paris, however, in the person of the newly crowned young queen Marie Antoinette, who had previously, as an Austrian archduchess, been one of his singing pupils at the Viennese court, and could always quell dissent during the long and stormy rehearsals for the new opera by threatening to fetch the queen. In the event the opera was a great success and Gluck quickly became established as the new saviour of French opera, a worthy inheritor of the mantle of Lully and Rameau.Prestoclassical.co.uk