Music in History

Go to content

Main menu

Gluck_innovations

Opera
 

opera seria 1720 -1740. Gluck's innovations

Metastasio and his imitators built their stories based on hegemonic characters with moral values . Those characters usually had to face the huge dilemma between love on one hand and honor and duty on the other. That kind of  refined and decorated  text  could be performed both as opera and  as  theatrical play. ( Pergolesi was among the main composers - imitators of Metastasio.)

Gluck  worked  hard  on  the form and content of the opera. He believed that the two main types of Italian opera (opera seria and  opera buffa) did not seem "natural" anymore;  they had been far from  what an opera should  be.  Opera buffa had lost its "freshness". Jokes were trivial and the continuous repetition of the same characters made them looking  like stereotypes. opera seria singing  was superficial  and the content was obsolete and boring. The singers of both opera types  were absolutely "masters" in the music scene. They decorated  the music so much  that the audience could not recognize the original melody.  Gluck wanted to refocus on the human drama and passions . On the other hand  he believed  that both  text and music should be of  the equal importance.
Thus, starting  with his "Orpheus and Eurydice" you tube he reduced  opportunities for singers  to demonstrate  their vocal  skills. He stopped using the secco recitative and he  tried to unify  drama, music, dance and theater practice  by mixing Italian and French traditions.  He went on with his innovations in his "Alcestis" scores you tube and "Paris and Helen" scores. He paid much attention to the orchestration and made the role of the choir more important. "Εxit arias" were decreased.
Gluck's innovations did not become a "mainstream" until the early 1790's. HIs style became the forerunner of opera R. Wagner.

                                                Gluck - Orfeo ed Euridice

                                                       Gluck :Alceste
                                    

resources
1.Hugo Riemann: dictionary of music, translated by J.S.Shedlock. λήμμα: Christoph Willibald Gluck
2.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opera_seria
3.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christoph_Willibald_Gluck

                      Dima Bilan - Aria from the Opera of Paris, "Paris and Helen"

Back to content | Back to main menu