Iphigénie en Tauride (Iphigeneia in Tauris) is a tragédie lyrique in four acts by Niccolò Piccinni, which was first performed at the Académie royale de musique (the Paris Opéra) on January 23, 1781. The opera’s libretto, by Alphonse du Congé Dubreuil, is based on a play of the same name by Claude Guimond de la Touche, although the ultimate source was the tragedy Iphigeneia in Tauris by Euripides. This opera marked the climax of the quarrel between the supporters of Piccinni and those of Christoph Willibald Gluck...
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.
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.
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. Gluck's operatic settings are very rarely staged together, but Pierre Audi's production makes a darkly compelling case for their dramatic unity. All the lead performers here are experienced exponents of Gluck, and together they present a powerfully idiomatic experience.
The world premiere of Nixon in China in October 1987 inaugurated a fresh era in American opera. The piece boldly carved out new territory by treating recent American history as suitably mythic operatic material. Skeptics thought this could result only in a trendily pop art-style ridicule of well-known political icons, but it turned out to be as valid a choice as Wagner’s dysfunctional gods or the tormented passions of verismo lovers. Years after the opera’s initial run at the Houston Grand Opera, Nixon is now recognized as a 20th-century masterpiece… —Thomas May
A true Callas cornucopia, this 70-CD set gathers together everything Maria Callas ever recorded in the studio. That's 26 complete operas (four of which are studio repeats), plus the complete studio recitals made during the legendary soprano's recording career, which lasted from 1949-69. The bonus CD-ROM contains libretti and translations in English, French and German, plus a Callas photo library, while remastered treats include Callas's first recital recording, originally made for the Fonit-Cetra label and featuring arias by Wagner and Bellini. – Barnes & Noble