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This review is from: Gluck: Alceste [DVD]  (DVD)
This production of Gluck's Alceste is an all time great, which it would be difficult to improve upon in any realistic sense. Anne Sophie von Otter, who is awesome in the role of Alceste, is supported by a dedicated cast, all of whom, including a boy and girl representing Alceste's children, fulfil their roles brilliantly as also do the orchestra and chorus. Costumes, choreography, staging and direction are all of the highest standard that blends in beautifully with the music.
Christoph Willibald Gluck (1714-1787) was the son of a German-Bohemian forester and huntsman who was employed in sequence by a variety of German aristocrats including Prince Lobkowitzt. Around 1732 Gluck attended at Prague University, after which he became a chamber musician in the household of the prince in Vienna. He is a paramount figure in the development of opera. The success of his music owes much to its austerity of design in contrast to the more ornamental style of his contemporary, Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764).
Both sound and picture quality on this 16: 9 EMI disc are very good. The music is of the kind that allows the viewer-listener to relax and bath in it and it instils thoughtful contemplation of the inter-relationship of life and death. It's 'we can only live in this moment' music that teaches us that it's all a question of knowing how best to pass from one moment into the next. Here we have husband and wife, mother and father, showing us how dedicated self-sacrifice, however painful at the time, can nevertheless bring its own reward as true love triumphs. If you enjoy great music, you will very much enjoy this outstanding performance of Alceste.