Iphigénie en Aulide
|Christoph Willibald Gluck|
Iphigénie en Aulide (Iphigeneia in Aulis) is an opera in three acts by Christoph Willibald Gluck, the first work he wrote for the Paris stage. The libretto was written by Leblanc du Roullet and was based on Jean Racine's tragedy Iphigénie. It was premiered on 19 April 1774 by the Paris Opéra in the second Salle du Palais-Royal.
Iphigénie "did not prove popular at first, although its overture was applauded generously from the start. [After the premiere] it was billed on 22, 24 and 29 April only to have its first run interrupted by the 1 May to 15 June 1774 closing of the theatre on account of the illness and death of Louis XV ... Iphigénie en Aulide was not returned to the stage until 10 January 1775, but it was revived annually in 1776-1780, 1782-1793, 1796-1824. It was mounted in Paris more than 400 times in this interval of 50 years", and eventually turned out to be Gluck’s most frequently performed opera in Paris. For the 1775 revival, "Gluck revised Iphigénie en Aulide ... introducing the goddess Diana (soprano) at the end of the opera as a dea ex machina, and altering and expanding the divertissements... So, broadly speaking, there are two versions of the opera; but the differences are by no means so great or important as those between Orfeo ed Euridice and Orphée et Euridice or between the Italian and the French Alceste". 
In 1847 Richard Wagner presented a revised German version of Gluck's opera, Iphigenia in Aulis, at the court of Dresden. Wagner edited, re-scored and revised the opera significantly including a different ending and some other passages of his own composition. Wagner's version of the opera is available on Eichhorn's 1972 LP recording, and was also revived at the 1984 Waterloo Festival with Alessandra Marc as Iphigenia. Wagner's finale translated back into French was also performed in the 2002/2003 La Scala production conducted by Riccardo Muti
Iphigénie en Aulide was first performed in the United States on 22 February 1935 at the Academy of Music, Philadelphia. The fully staged production was presented by the Philadelphia Orchestra and conductor Alexander Smallens. Directed by Herbert Graf, it used sets by Norman Bel Geddes and starred Georges Baklanoff as Agamemnon, Cyrena van Gordon as Clytemnestre, Rosa Tentoni as Iphigénie, Joseph Bentonelli as Achille, and Leonard Treash as Patrocle.
|Role||Voice type||Premiere Cast, 19 April 1774
(Conductor: Louis-Joseph Francœur)
(Choreograph: Gaétan Vestris)
|Agamemnon, King of Mycenae||bass-baritone||Henri Larrivée|
|Clitemnestre (Clytemnestra), his wife||soprano||Françoise-Claude-Marie-Rosalie Campagne Duplant (or du Plant)|
|Iphigénie (Iphigenia), their daughter||soprano||Sophie Arnould|
|Achille (Achilles), a Greek hero||haute-contre||Joseph Legros|
|Calchas, the High Priest||bass||Nicolas Gélin|
|Three Greek women||sopranos||Marie-Françoise de Beaumont d'Avantois; Mlle Rosalie (other performer unknown)|
|A Lesbian slave woman||soprano||Mlle Chateauneuf|
|Greek soldiers and people; Thessalian warriors; women from Argos; women from Aulis; men, women and slaves from Lesbos; priestesses of Diana: choir|
ballerinas: Marie-Madeleine Guimard, Marie Allard, Anne Heinel, Peslin; male dancers: Gaétan Vestris, Maximilien Gardel
Calchas, the great seer, prophesies that King Agamemnon must sacrifice his own daughter, Iphigenia, in order to guarantee fair winds for the king's fleet en route to Troy –- a demand that comes from the goddess Diana herself. Throughout the opera, Agamemnon struggles with the terrible choice between sparing his daughter's life and ensuring his subjects' welfare.
Agamemnon summons his daughter to Aulis, the port where the Greek navy is gathering, ostensibly for her to marry Achilles, the great warrior hero. Then, reconsidering his decision to sacrifice her, the king tries to prevent her arriving with the fabricated explanation that Achilles has been unfaithful. Iphigenia, however, has already reached the Greek camp accompanied by her mother Clytemnestra. The two women are dismayed and angered by Achilles’ apparent inconstancy, but he eventually enters declaring his enduring love for the girl, and the first act ends with a tender scene of reconciliation.
The wedding ceremony is due to be celebrated and festivities take place with dances and choruses. When the couple are about to proceed to the temple, however, Arcas, the captain of Agamemnon’s guards, reveals that the king is awaiting his daughter before the altar in order to kill her. Achilles and Clytemnestra rush to save the girl from being sacrificed. Agamemnon finally seems to give up his plan to kill her.
The third act opens with a chorus of Greeks: they object to the king’s decision in case they are never allowed to reach Troy, and demand the ceremony be celebrated. At this point, Iphigenia resigns herself to her fate, and offers her own life for the sake of her people, while Clytemnestra entreats the vengeance of Jupiter upon the ruthless Greeks. As the sacrifice is going to be held, however, Achilles bursts in with his warriors and the opera concludes with Gluck's most significant revision of the original myth: Calchas’ voice rises over the general turmoil and announces that Diana has changed her mind about the sacrifice and consents to the marriage. In the second 1775 version Diana appears personally to consecrate both the wedding and Agamemnon's voyage.
- José van Dam (Agamemnon), Anne Sofie von Otter (Clytemnestre), Lynne Dawson (Iphigénie), John Aler (Achille); Monteverdi Choir, Lyon Opera Orchestra, John Eliot Gardiner (Erato, 1990). This recording, sung in French, presents the score as Gluck wrote it.
- Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Agamemnon), Trudeliese Schmidt (Clytemnestre), Anna Moffo (Iphiginie), Ludovic Spiess (Achille); Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Müncher Rundfunkorchester, Kurt Eichhorn (Eurodisc/BMG 1972). Sung in German, this recording presents the score as revised by Richard Wagner.
- Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Agamemnon), Johanna Blatter (Clytemnestre), Martha Musial (Iphiginie), Helmut Krebs (Achille), Josef Greindl (Kalchas); RAIS Kammerchor und Sinfonieorchester, Artur Rother (Gala 100.712). Sung in German, December 1, 1951.
- Pitou, p. 288
- Dizionario (accessed 6 May 2011)
- Hayes, p. 817; cf. also Dizionario
- Later CD: Eurodisc, 352 988; Bmg Rca, 74 321-32 236-2.
- Concert: Wagner's Resetting of Gluck's 'Iphigenie' - New York Times
- Leonetta Bentivoglio, (Italian) Ifigenia travolta dagli applausi, «La Repubblica», 8 December 2002.
- Roles and premiere cast from Kobbés, Hayes, Dizionario (accessed 6 May 2011), Amadeusonline Almanach by Gherardo Casaglia (accessed 21 September 2010) , and Italianopera.org (accessed 6 May 2011)
- according to Amadeusonline Almanach by Gherardo Casaglia (accessed 6 May 2011) the role of Diana, introduced in the 1775 second version of the opera, was performed by one Alice Berelli.
- Lajarte, p. 277
- (Italian) Dizionario dell'Opera, at "myword.it"
- Earl of Harewood & Peattie, Antony (eds), The New Kobbés Opera Book, G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1997 (ISBN 978-0-39-914332-8)
- (French) Lajarte, Théodore de, Bibliothèque Musicale du Théatre de l'Opéra. Catalogue Historique, Chronologique, Anecdotique, Parigi, Librairie des bibliophiles, 1878, Tome I (accessible for free on-line at scribd.com)
- Pitou, Spire, The Paris Opéra. An Encyclopedia of Operas, Ballets, Composers, and Performers – Rococo and Romantic, 1715-1815, Greenwood Press, Westport/London, 1985 (ISBN 0-313-24394-8)
- Hayes, Jeremy, Iphigénie en Aulide, in Stanley, Sadie (ed.), The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, Grove (Oxford University Press), New York, 1997, II, pp. 816-819 (ISBN 978-0-19-522186-2)
|Wikisource has the text of a 1920 Encyclopedia Americana article about Iphigénie en Aulide.|
- Libretto (French or German)