Monday, 25 June 2012

Gluck's Orfeo from Glyndebourne: Dame Janet bids 'Addio, addio'

After Nigel Lowery's dreadful assault upon Gluck, I felt the need of something more wholesome. Of course the staging would be unlikely to be carried out in quite the same way now; I am sure that Peter Hall would do it differently, were he to return to the work. Not that there is anything wrong with it, but fashions change more quickly in this respect than perhaps any other. It is certainly a hundred times preferable to Lowery's puerile effort. The glories of the audio recording (heartily recommended, with links below) originating from this production were always Dame Janet Baker's astonishingly intense, truly heartfelt farewell to the stage and the London Philharmonic's playing under Raymond Leppard; so they are here, though there is little cause for complaint here, and the chorus, trained by Jane Glover, acquits itself beautifully. 'Purists' will doubtless moan about the composite version of the work, let alone the aria ending the first act, a guilty pleasure if ever there were one; even my own favourite Gluck conductor, Riccardo Muti, disdains anything but 'pure' Vienna. The rest of us can sit back and enjoy...

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