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.
Gluck wrote his opera seria Ezio in 1750 for production in Prague. (In 1762, after the formal and stylistic breakthroughs of Orfeo ed Euridice, he revised the opera for a Vienna production, but it's the original version that's recorded here.) The opera has many of the characteristics of Italian late Baroque opera; it's essentially a series of arias separated by accompanied recitatives, the formula that the composer reacted against in Orfeo. It's not Gluck at his most innovative or original, but it's a fine example of opera seria, with a number of impressive arias and some very expressive recitatives, and it can make quite an impact in a performance as fine as this one.
Another opportunity to hear Gluck before his “reform opera” days. This dramma per musica is set in the late 5th century just before the fall of the Roman empire dates from 1750 (and was successful enough for Gluck to have revised it for a 1763 revival). It shows the composer as a consummate master of opera seria with its elaborate structure of da capo arias and recitatives in a style moving from late baroque to galant.
"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
Opting for the French-language version of Orpheus, David Alagna was faced with the task of achieving an appropriately subtle adaptation. In a plot transposed to the present day, Eurydice dies in a car accident on the day of her wedding and Orpheus's quest for his beloved is a dream beginning and ending at the cemetery. No happy ending in this interpretation, but a new approach to characterisation: Amore, sung by a baritone, becomes a funeral parlour employee and Orpheus' guide. Orpheus, of course, loses his loved one forever by turning to look back. World famous tenor Roberto Alagna throws himself body and soul into this production. His incredible vitality, flawless timbre and diction make him a great Orpheus. His partner, young Italian soprano Serena Gamberoni, is simply stunning as Eurydice, while French baritone Marc Barrard is suitably terrifying as the guide to the Underworld. The orchestra is conducted by Giampaolo Bisanti, who masterfully brings out all Gluck's poetry, romantic melancholy and depth.
This is a full recording of the original Italian version (the “Vienna version” from 1762) of Gluck’s beloved take on the Orpheus myth, Orfeo et Euridice PLUS extra music written by Gluck for later performances of his opera. It includes virtuoso arias for Fagioli and as such represents a brilliant showcase for him and a collectible item for connoisseurs. This is Franco Fagioli’s first ever recording of a complete opera in which he sings the title role and since, the role has become one of Franco’s calling cards in recent seasons. It is known for its absolutely gorgeous music, including one of opera’s most audience-pleasing tunes, the uber-famous aria “Che farò senza Euridice”. This version of the opera (by far the most popular one) appears for the first time ever on period instruments on DG / Archiv, hence filling a major gap in our catalogue and is a substantial project featuring one of our exciting new signings in one of his finest roles.
A splendid cast as well as an avant-garde production that makes extensive use of large projection screens and includes members of the orchestra as actors onstage result in one of the most exciting opera performances in recent years.