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Ancient Drama in Music for the Modern Stage$
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Peter Brown and Suzana Ograjenšek

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199558551

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199558551.001.0001

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Who Killed Gluck?

Who Killed Gluck?

(p.210) 12 Who Killed Gluck?
Ancient Drama in Music for the Modern Stage

Simon Goldhill

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on Christoph Willibald Gluck. It explores the cultural history which turned a revolutionary icon at the centre of a polemical storm into a dull or, at best, curious embodiment of a recognized but uninspiring classicism of a bygone age. Listening to Gluck in the eighteenth century in Paris produced a storm of tears, recriminations, anguished passions, and a turmoil of social and intellectual disagreements: it examines why that seems so strange to modern audiences. The chapter also considers how Gluck's opera reforms responded to classical culture to become the revolutionary icons his contemporaries believed them to be. To appreciate what made the performances of Iphigénie en Aulide, Orphée, and Iphigénie en Tauride such events in Paris at the end of the Ancien Régime, it looks not just at formal elements of composition, but also at a range of frames of comprehension, including the role of classicism in critical understanding of theatre; and the role of musical and literary tradition.

Keywords:   Christoph Willibald Gluck, operas, Iphigénie en Aulide, Orphée, Iphigénie en Tauride, opera reforms, classicial culture

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