Gluck, Christoph Wilibald, Ritter von

Up to 1756 he produced a number of works in Rome, Naples, Vienna and other cities, traveling at intervals. In 1755 he returned to Vienna, where for the next six years the demands of his patrons led him to produce works well-nigh worthless except as "pot-boilers" and as practise in composition. At the end of this time, he secured the co-operation of Calzabigi, a librettist who was thoroughly in sympathy with his own ideas on the need of reform in Italian operas the accepted standard of that day. The result of this new combination was remarkably successful in Orpheus and Eurydice, in 1762. Alceste, in 1767, was another step in advance; indeed, its often quoted preface amounted to a declaration of war in the operatic field. The gist of this preface may be stated as follows:   That the place of music in opera is to supply adequate expression to the text, without interrupting the natural action of the drama by superfluous vocal display; and on the other hand, by judicious use of the orchestra, to add appropriate effects in tone that should vivify the whole as color does the outlines of a painting. In this " confession of faith " Gluck set forth what he was trying to do in this opera, and spoke of the conventional Italian operas as " wearisome," thus incurring the enmity of the foremost German critics. In the dedication to Paris and Helen, 1770, he referred to his critics as " smatterers " and " would-be judges," and stated the fact that "because of imperfectly studied, poorly conducted and still more poorly performed rehearsals," his opera had been unjustly condemned, the effect which it might produce upon the stage having been judged by its effect in a room. The attacks of the " would-be judges" were but increased by this defense, and Gluck's thoughts turned to Paris where the standard of aesthetics in general was much higher than in Vienna, as a more congenial field. In 1772 Iphigenie en Aulide was rehearsed in Vienna, and finally produced at the Grand Opera in Paris, in 1774; a triumph in spite of adverse circumstances. Orpheus and Eurydice; and Alceste, appeared within the next two years, and drew immense audiences; but their severely classical style, and dramatic intensity, aroused the  opposition of those prejudiced against the innovations of Gluck, who was now determined to remain in Paris.