Thursday, July 26, 2007

Colorful Lyre

Last weekend at Glimmerglass, I heard the Berlioz edition of Gluck's Orpheus and Euridice, using its French libretto. This "reform" opera returns to the mantra of Monteverdi, that the music exists only to serve the dramatic needs of the words. Gluck's writing eschews the trite predictability and galant schmaltz so popular in the pre-classical period.

But why was there a fiery coloratura aria in the middle of the opera? Full marks to young soprano Michael Maniaci for his wicked licking of this music, but I was amazed and suspicious to hear such a display of virtuosity in a Gluck opera. Time to dig around in some old scores, it seems. Berlioz [top] simply can't be trusted.

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