Gluck’s Iphigénie in Pain

Edith Hall

in Adventures with Iphigenia in Tauris

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780195392890
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979257 | DOI:

Series: Onassis Series in Hellenic Culture

Gluck’s Iphigénie in Pain

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Gluck's French-language opera Iphigénie en Tauride, which premiered in Paris in 1783, has remained alive in the repertoire having been choreographed in the 20th century by both Isadora Duncan and Pina Bausch. Gluck and his librettist Nicolas-François Guillard, who made use of an excellent stage play by Claude Guymond de la Touche (1757), effected the last stage in Gluck's transformation of opera into a medium—‘Reform Opera—in which continuous vocal and instrumental writing is synthesised with psychological register. Euripides' IT enabled Gluck to create an opera which expressed emotion continuously in music, since much of it consists of psychic exploration of subjective consciousness—nightmares, thoughts and memories—rather than action. The opera also reflects the constitutional crisis and ideological conflict of its era. Its condemnation of cruelty and tyranny is connected with the emergent sensibility of the French revolutionary movement as well as with the Enlightenment distrust of religion.

Keywords: C.W. Gluck; Iphigénie en Tauride; opera; reform opera; subjectivity; tyranny; enlightenment; French Revolution; Isadora Duncan; Pina Bausch; Nicolas-François Guillard; Claude Guymond de la Touche

Chapter.  8931 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Classical Literature

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