Conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler already enjoyed a worldwide legendary standing during his lifetime he was considered the German conductor and performances were greeted with rapturous applause. Today, more than 50 years after his death, Wilhelm Furtwängler is still an icon and his work has become an integral part of the music scene.
The history of opera is inseparably linked with the biographies of singers; audiences have always been fascinated by both musical prowess and behind the scenes goings-on. The battle for prestige and fame was heated and passionate in the Baroque era, with legendary rivalries. Fiercely competitive, Cuzzoni and Bordoni were among the most acclaimed divas of the age, resorting to fisticuffs on stage. Present-day prima donnas Genaux, Prina, Nesi and Basso now follow in the footsteps of their fervid predecessors, presenting on disc a tongue-in-cheek survey of standout arias for mezzo soprano and contralto. Three star mezzos and a magnificent top contralto are accompanied by the superb Greek orchestra Armonia Atenea under conductor George Petrou, winner of Germany s prestigious ECHO Klassik Prize. A stunning recital, bringing to life the rich heritage of Baroque opera the acme of musical enjoyment with the entertaining element of cultic stardom.
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...
'Iphigenie en Aulide' was the opera with which Gluck set out to conquer the lyric stage in Paris in April 1774. France was the only country to resist the fashion for Italian opera that prevailed everywhere else in civilised Europe in the first half of the 18th century and to develop instead its own national form of serious opera, the tragedie lyrique. As an acknowledged master of theItalian manner, therefore, Gluck's appearance in Paris was bound to be controversial… He had a useful ally in Paris, however, in the person of the newly crowned young queen Marie Antoinette, who had previously, as an Austrian archduchess, been one of his singing pupils at the Viennese court, and could always quell dissent during the long and stormy rehearsals for the new opera by threatening to fetch the queen. In the event the opera was a great success and Gluck quickly became established as the new saviour of French opera, a worthy inheritor of the mantle of Lully and Rameau.Prestoclassical.co.uk
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.
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.