Christoph Willibald Gluck – Orfeo Ed Euridice
Recorded at Glyndebourne, Great Britain on June, 1982.
About this Opera:
Orfeo ed Euridice (French version: Orphée et Eurydice; English translation: Orpheus and Eurydice; Spanish Translation: Orfeo y Eurídice) is an opera composed by Christoph Willibald Gluck based on the myth of Orpheus, set to a libretto by Ranieri de’ Calzabigi. It belongs to the genre of the azione teatrale, meaning an opera on a mythological subject with choruses and dancing. The piece was first performed at Vienna on October 5, 1762. Orfeo ed Euridice is the first of Gluck’s “reform” operas, in which he attempted to replace the abstruse plots and overly complex music of opera seria with a “noble simplicity” in both the music and the drama.
Though originally set to an Italian libretto, Orfeo ed Euridice owes much to the genre of French opera, particularly in its use of accompanied recitative and a general absence of vocal virtuosity. Indeed, twelve years after the 1762 premiere, Gluck re-adapted the opera to suit the tastes of a Parisian audience at the Académie Royale de Musique with a libretto by Pierre-Louis Moline. This reworking was given the title Orphée et Eurydice, and several alterations were made in vocal casting and orchestration to suit French tastes. The opera is the most popular of Gluck’s works.
The opera was first performed in Vienna at the Burgtheater on October 5, 1762, for the name-day celebrations of the Emperor Francis I. The production was supervised by the reformist theatre administrator, Count Giacomo Durazzo. Choreography was by Gasparo Angiolini, and set designs were by Giovanni Maria Quaglio, both leading members of their fields. The first Orfeo was the famous castrato Gaetano Guadagni. Orfeo was revived in Vienna during the following year, but then not performed until 1769. For the performances that took place in London in 1770, Guadagni sang the role of Orpheus, but little of the music bore any relation to Gluck’s original, with J.C. Bach – “the English Bach” – providing most of the new music. Haydn conducted a performance of the Italian version at Eszterháza in 1776. During the early 19th century, Adolphe Nourrit became particularly well-known for his performances of Orpheus at the Paris Opera. In 1854 Franz Liszt conducted the work at Weimar, composing a symphonic poem of his own to replace Gluck’s original overture. Typically during the 19th century and for most of the 20th century, the role of Orfeo was sung by a female contralto, and noted interpreters of the role from this time include Clara Butt and Kathleen Ferrier, and the mezzo-sopranos Rita Gorr, Janet Baker and Risë Stevens (at the Metropolitan Opera). Among conductors, Arturo Toscanini was a notable proponent of the opera. His radio broadcast of Act II was eventually released on both LP and CD.
In 1769 for a performance at Parma which was conducted by the composer, Gluck transposed the role of Orfeo up for the soprano castrato Giuseppe Millico, maintaining a libretto in Italian. This version has not been performed in modern times.
Gluck revised the score again for a production in Paris, which premiered on 2 August 1774. This version, named Orphée et Eurydice, had a French libretto by Pierre-Louis Moline, which was both a translation of and an expansion upon Calzabigi’s original text. Gluck expanded and rewrote parts of the opera, and changed the role of Orpheus from a part for a castrato to one for high tenor or the so-called haute-contre – the usual voice in French opera for heroic characters – as the French almost never used castrati. This version of the work also had additional ballet sequences, conforming to the tastes that were prevalent at the time in Paris.
In 1859, the composer Hector Berlioz made a version of the opera – in four acts – with the singer Pauline Viardot in mind, adapting the score for a female alto. In this adaptation, Berlioz used the key scheme of the 1762 Vienna score while incorporating much of the additional music of the 1774 Paris score. He returned to the Italian version only when he considered it to be superior either in terms of music or in terms of the drama. He also changed the orchestration to take advantage of new developments in musical instruments. In Berlioz’s day, Orpheus came to be generally sung by a female alto or a tenor, as the original version for castrato became increasingly neglected. Operatic castrati themselves had virtually vanished by 1825, and performances of the original version for castrato became increasingly rare. The modern practice of approximating castrati by using countertenors as replacements only dates to 1950.
Finally, an 1889 edition, published by Ricordi, combined elements of both the Italian and the French versions, using again a female alto as Orfeo. This edition proved extremely popular, and consisted largely of Berlioz’s adaption condensed into three acts. It also re-incorporated much of the music of the 1774 French version that had been omitted by Berlioz. On occasion the role of Orfeo has even been transposed down an octave for a baritone to sing. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Hermann Prey are two notable baritones who have performed the role in Germany. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau recorded the opera, a recording which is still available commercially.
01. Sinfonia (3:16)
02. Coro di Pastori e Ninfe (3:24)
03. Recitativo: Orfeo (0:39)
04. Pantomima (2:06)
05. Coro di Pastori e Ninfe (1:31)
06. Recitativo: Orfeo (0:22)
07. Ritornello (1:04)
08. Aria: Orfeo (1:21)
09. Recitativo: Orfeo (1:37)
10. Aria: Orfeo (1:25)
11. Recitativo: Orfeo (1:30)
12. Aria: Orfeo (1:26)
13. Recitativo: Orfeo & Amore (1:35)
14. Aria: Amore (0:47)
15. Recitativo: Orfeo & Amore (1:53)
16. Aria: Amore (2:09)
17. Recitativo: Orfeo (2:03)
18. Aria: Orfeo (4:37)
19. Danza delle Furie e degli Spettri (1:17)
20. Coro delle Furie e degli Spettri (0:29)
21. Le Furie Riprendono il Ballo (0:35)
22. Coro (1:21)
23. Orfeo e Coro (2:37)
24. Coro delle Furie e degli Spettri (0:50)
25. Aria: Orfeo (0:55)
26. Coro delle Furie e degli Spettri (0:52)
27. Aria: Orfeo (0:39)
28. Coro delle Furie e degli Spettri (1:14)
29. Danza delle Furie e degli Spettri (4:15)
30. Balleto (2:18)
31. Balleto (5:35)
32. Balleto (2:54)
33. Aria: Euridice e Coro (3:29)
01. Orfeo: Che puro ciel! Che chiaro sol! (6:04)
02. Coro di Eroi ed Eroine (2:13)
03. Danza degli Eroi (2:18)
04. Orfeo: Oh voi, ombre felici (1:00)
05. Coro di Eroi ed Eroine (3:00)
06. Orfeo & Euridice: Vieni! Sequi i miei passi (3:56)
07. Orfeo & Euridice: Su! Su e mi sequi, O cara (3:40)
08. Eurydice: Qual vita e questa mai (1:30)
09. Eurydice & Orfeo: Che fiero momento! (3:03)
10. Orfeo & Euridice: Ecco novel tormento! (3:54)
11. Orfeo: Che faro senza Euridice? (4:37)
12. Orfeo, Amore, Euridice: Ah! Finisca e per sempre (2:57)
13. Gran Scena – Orfeo, Coro, Amore, Euridice (3:41)
14. Danza di Eroi ed Eroine (2:15)
15. Gavotta (2:00)
16. Balleto (3:10)
17. Minuetto (2:08)
18. Terzetto: Euridice, Orfeo, Amore (3:39)
19. Balletto (0:35)
20. Balletto (2:13)
21. Ciaccona (5:20)
22. Coro – Trionfi Amore (1:47)
Stereo, DDD, mp3, 320 kbps, 304.27 Mb, 2 hours 07 minutes. Covers, info & synopsis included.