This article seeks to examine some of the paradoxes in the reception and rendition of Gluck’s opera in the second half of the eighteenth century. Although the supposed plainness and simplicity of the work are said to have been influenced by what was then regarded as English taste, the various productions of the work put on in London testify to a downright resistance to such plainness and simplicity. Whether it be with the Bach-Guglielmi productions of 1770 and 1771, more or less devised by Guadagni, or with the version later put on for Tenducci in 1785, those presentations of the work were at odds with the type of discourse that used to accompany the event itself. And yet, throughout the succeeding versions, one can trace some elements of Englishness, if only in the professed acknowledgment of Gluck’s indebtedness to Handel, then regarded and venerated as the great “national” composer. In such a context, the English version of the work put on at Covent Garden in 1792 can be seen as a phenomenon of double allegiance, both to Gluck’s original and to the operatic traditions of the Anglo-Saxon world.
Les Lumières et la culture musicale européenne :
Université de Metz
Les fortunes d’Orfeo ed Euridice sur la scène anglaise au cours de la seconde moitié du XVIII° siècle