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Gluck: Orphée Et Eurydice / Gardiner, Von Otter, Et Al


Release Date: 02/26/2008 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 09161   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Christoph W. Gluck
Performer:  Anne Sofie von OtterBarbara HendricksBrigitte Fournier
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monteverdi ChoirLyon Opera Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 30 Mins. 

CD not available: This title is currently only available as an MP3 download.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

For an exalted level of singing the present set requires to be heard by all lovers of this opera.

Gluck composed his reform opera for Vienna in 1762 in Italian and with a castrato in the title role. Later, in 1774 he reworked the opera for Paris, adding ballet music, which was a ‘must’ in that city, and rewrote the title role for a high tenor – haute-contre. Almost a century later Hector Berlioz made his own edition – the main reason being that the score had been arranged by various hands and he wanted to bring it back to Gluck’s original ideas. However, since Berlioz had the famous Pauline Viardot available he transcribed the title role for contralto. This is also the version that has been commonly used ever since but
Read more again with various changes, most commonly translating it back to Italian. Latterly Gluck’s first thoughts for Vienna have been reinstated, often with a counter-tenor as Orfeo. In other words there are many variations on the Orfeo theme and this Berlioz version is valuable. This is also the version that is used in the current Stockholm production, which I reviewed a few months ago, where Anne Sofie von Otter alternates with Anna Larsson in the title role.

Strictly speaking this isn’t the ‘real’ Berlioz version, since Gardiner has reinstated some music that Berlioz omitted, no doubt to heighten the tension. I hadn’t heard this set before in full and was slightly disappointed that it felt so laid-back. The playing of the orchestra of the Opéra de Lyon is superlative and the Monteverdi Choir, fairly forwardly balanced, sing with their accustomed poise and perfect intonation. However the drama is a rather underplayed. I have long admired Gardiner’s Iphigénie en Tauride, recorded a couple of years earlier, where the drama is more to the fore; here there is too much oratorio about some passages and the ballet music is neatly played but too polite. There was much more fizz about Sir Richard Armstrong’s reading in Stockholm.

But Gardiner has the same trump card as Armstrong, namely Anne Sofie von Otter as Orphée. She was superb in all respects in Stockholm, vocally as well as scenically. Almost twenty years ago she was marginally fresher of voice – but only marginally – and it is a pity that her voice is accorded a recessed balance in relation to the choir. This matters little when her reading is so superb. The big aria that ends act 1, Amour, viens render à mon âme, is brilliant with fluent coloratura. Quel nouveau ciel in act 2 is celestial. As for J’ai perdu mon Eurydice in act 3, better known as Che faro in the Italian version, it is deeply felt but classically controlled and forward-moving without being rushed. I haven’t heard all the various Orphées and Orfeos on record but it is hard to imagine the part better performed.

Brigitte Fournier’s bright soprano is ideally contrasted as Cupid and Barbara Hendricks’s Eurydice is frankly the best thing I have heard from her in an operatic role: dramatic, expressive and ravishingly beautiful. Her aria Fortune ennemie, quelle barbarie in act 3 should convert anyone who regards Hendricks as an inexpressive singer.

The recording is good but with a couple of question-marks concerning the balance of von Otter vis-à-vis the choir. There is a good essay and synopsis by Roger Nichols. The libretto is available on the internet.

Those who want Gluck’s 1774 version unadulterated and with a haute-contre in the title role will find a lot to admire in the Naxos recording with Jean-Paul Fouchécourt as Orphée (see review), but for the exalted level of singing from choir and soloists and in particular Anne Sofie von Otter’s all-embracing reading of Orphée the present set requires to be heard by all lovers of this opera.

-- Göran Forsling, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Orfeo ed Euridice by Christoph W. Gluck
Performer:  Anne Sofie von Otter (Mezzo Soprano), Barbara Hendricks (Soprano), Brigitte Fournier (Soprano)
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monteverdi Choir,  Lyon Opera Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1762/1774; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1989 
Venue:  Auditorium Maurice Ravel, Lyon, France 
Length: 89 Minutes 36 Secs. 
Language: French 
Notes: Arranger: Hector Berlioz.
Composition written: Vienna, Austria (1762).
Composition revised: Paris, France (1774). 

Sound Samples

Orphée et Eurydice: Ouverture
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 1, Scène 1 (Orphée et le Choeur): Choeur: Ah! dans ce bois tranquille
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 1, Scène 1 (Orphée et le Choeur): Pantomime
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 1, Scène 1 (Orphée et le Choeur): Choeur: Ah! dans ce bois lugubre et sombre
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 1, Scène 1 (Orphée et le Choeur): Ritournelle in C minor
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 1, Scène 2 (Orphée): Récit: Eurydice! Eurydice! Ombre chère
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 1, Scène 2 (Orphée): Air: Object de mon amour
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 1, Scène 2 (Orphée): Récit: Eurydice, Eurydice, de ce doux nom
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 1, Scène 2 (Orphée): Air: Accablé de regrets
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 1, Scène 2 (Orphée): Récit: Divinités de l'Achéron
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 1, Scène 3 (Orphée et l'Amour): Air: Si les doux accords de ma Lyre (L'Amour)
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 1, Scène 3 (Orphée et l'Amour): Récit: Dieux! Je la reverrais! (Orphée, L'Amour)
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 1, Scène 3 (Orphée et l'Amour): Air: Soumis au silence (L'Amour)
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 1, Scène 4 (Orphée): Récit: Qu'entends-je? Qu'a-t-il dit?
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 1, Scène 4 (Orphée): Air: Amour, viens rendre à mon âme
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 2, Premier tableau - Une horrible caverne: Danse des Furies
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 2, Premier tableau - Une horrible caverne: Choeur des Furies (Reprise)
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 2, Premier tableau - Une horrible caverne: Air avec choeur: Laissez-vous toucher par mes pleurs
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 2, Premier tableau - Une horrible caverne: Air: La tendresse qui me presse
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 2, Premier tableau - Une horrible caverne: Danse des Furies
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 2, Premier tableau - Une horrible caverne, Deuxième tableau - Les Champs-Elysées, Scène 1 (Eurydice et le Choeur): Ballet des ombres heureuses
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 2, Premier tableau - Une horrible caverne, Deuxième tableau - Les Champs-Elysées, Scène 1 (Eurydice et le Choeur): Ballet
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 2, Premier tableau - Une horrible caverne, Deuxième tableau - Les Champs-Elysées, Scène 1 (Eurydice et le Choeur): Air avec choeur: Cet asile aimable et tranquille (Eurydice)
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 2, Premier tableau - Une horrible caverne, Deuxième tableau - Les Champs-Elysées, Scène 2 (Orphée): Air: Quel nouveau ciel pour ces lieux
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 2, Premier tableau - Une horrible caverne, Deuxième tableau - Les Champs-Elysées, Scène 3 (Orphee et le Choeur): Choeur: Viens dans ce séjour paisible
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 2, Premier tableau - Une horrible caverne, Deuxième tableau - Les Champs-Elysées, Scène 3 (Orphee et le Choeur): Ballet
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 2, Premier tableau - Une horrible caverne, Deuxième tableau - Les Champs-Elysées, Scène 3 (Orphee et le Choeur): Récit avec choeur: Ô vous, ombres que j'implore (Orphée)
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 2, Premier tableau - Une horrible caverne, Deuxième tableau - Les Champs-Elysées, Scène 4 (Le Choeur): Choeur: Près de tendre objet
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 3, Scène 1 (Eurydice et Orphée): Recit: Viens, viens, suis moi
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 3, Scène 1 (Eurydice et Orphée): Duo: Viens, suis un époux qui t'adore
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 3, Scène 1 (Eurydice et Orphée): Récit: Mais d'où vient qu'il persiste à garder le silence (Eurydice)
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 3, Scène 1 (Eurydice et Orphée): Air: Fortune ennemie, quelle barbarie (Eurydice)
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 3, Scène 1 (Eurydice et Orphée): Récit: Quelle épreuve cruelle! (Orphée, Eurydice)
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 3, Scène 1 (Eurydice et Orphée): Air: J'ai perdu mon Eurydice (Orphée)
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 3, Scène 1 (Eurydice et Orphée): Récit: Ah! puisse ma douleur (Orphée)
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 3, Scène 2 (L'Amour et Orphée): Récit: Arrête, Orphée! (L'Amour, Orphée)
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 3, Scène 3: Trio: Tendre amour! (L'Amour, Orphée, Eurydice)
Orphée et Eurydice, ACT 3, Scène 3: Choeur final: Hymne à l'amour 'Le dieu de Paphos'

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