Though originally set to an Italian libretto, "Orfeo ed Euridice", Gluck's first step in his reform of the operatic form, owes much to the genre of French opera, particularly in its' extensive use of accompanied recitative and a general absence of vocal virtuosity. In fact, it is generally supposed that Gluck frankly took Rameau's "Castor et Pollux" as his model when he sat down to compose "Orfeo": indeed, the plot of the earlier work, in particular, the rescue of Pollux by Castor from the infernal regions, has much in common with that of "Orfeo", so it is possible that Gluck took many hints from Rameau's musical treatment of the various scenes which the two works have in common. Therefore, it seems quite fitting that twelve years after the 1762 premiere of the original work, in 1774, Gluck presented his work to the Parisian public, readapting it, in the process, to suit the tastes of the audience at the Academie Royale de Musique. This reworking was given the title "Orphee et Eurydice" which is the version of this ever well-known piece that I want to present in this series of uploads.
The recording presented here is Minkowski's 2004 live recording of the work with the following cast:
Richard Croft - Orphee,
Mireille Delunsch - Eurydice,
Marion Harousseau - L'Amour,
Claire Delgado-Boge - Une ombre heureuse.
Finally, here is a link to the complete libretto:
Hope you'll enjoy :).
No. 12. Duet - "Viens, suis un epoux". This piece seems rather problematic: it starts wonderfully, with Orpheus' repeated warm pleas to his wife whose continuous desire for her husband's glance introduces a sudden shift to a minor melody that is then used to carry the characters' appeal to the gods. After a repeat of this section, though, Gluck resolves the piece in its' original light melody which proves rather unsatisfying with the final anguishing phrases forming a stark contrast to the music that carries them.
No. 13. Aria (Duettino) - "Fortune ennemie". Eurydice is given an ungratefully small part in the opera (which could have been safely called "Orfeo") but, thankfully, her role is painted sympathetically, especially in this short aria which finds the heroine lamenting her poor fortune. Originally, the B section of the aria was meant to be sung solo but for the 1774 version Gluck opted to add the voice of Orpheus' to the piece, making the section a duettino of stunning beauty which helps to note Orpheus' growing torment at being unable to see his wife.
Again, hope you'll enjoy :).