Thursday 5 May 2011

Orpheus Remasked?

Buoyed by the victory, at least so far, of Birtwistle's masterpiece, The Mask of Orpheus in the Fantasy Opera poll (please vote here if you have not yet done so), I tried to find a clip on YouTube. Nothing alas was immediately forthcoming. However, I came across something rather surprising during my search, namely a clip from another great retelling of the Orpheus legend, that by Gluck. So far, so unsurprising. Yet, in the face of the great reformer's Iphigénie en Aulide failing so far to register a single vote, it was heartening to hear his music being presented in so unexpected a fashion:

The Lydians also have an interesting way with Handel's Messiah. This performance might not be the last word in accuracy, but seems to me a hundred times preferable to anaemic authenticism. The visual element helps too...

For anyone wondering about the less-favoured of Gluck's two Iphigénie operas, here are extracts from a Rome performance conducted by the composer's greatest living interpreter, Riccardo Muti:

And finally, here is the greatest (recorded) conductor of them all, performing the overture in properly Wagnerian fashion (audio only, but who needs to see anything when hearing a performance of this intensity?)