O wretched Iphigenia,
your family is destroyed !
You have no more kings ;
I have no more parents.
Mingle your plaintive cries
with my lamentations.
In 1774, Christoph Willibald Gluck went to Paris at the invitation of Marie-Antoinette. The composer had already reformed opera seria, composing music that followed the drama and its expression without suffocating it with unnecessary ornamentation. In Paris, Gluck was to revolutionise tragédie lyrique. Turning the page on Lully and Rameau, he profoundly redefined the French style. Iphigénie en Tauride is the expression of this artistic revolution.
Iphigenia did not die in Aulis. She was not sacrificed by her father Agamemnon to ensure favourable winds for his fleet leaving for the Trojan War. Diana, the goddess of the hunt, took pity on her. In extremis, she replaced the young girl with a deer, then took her to Tauris where she made her one of her priestesses. There, Iphigenia lives far from the world and from her family - the Atrides - whose history was permanently marked by a cycle of violence including murder, patricide, fratricide and incest. One day, she sees a ghost resurface in the person of her brother Orestes - the murderer of her mother, pursued by the goddesses of vengeance - who is washed ashore. Iphigenia must now face her traumatic past.
From the very first notes, Gluck unleashes a storm on stage, whose raging elements seem to come straight from Iphigenia's soul. What follows does not cease to overwhelm us: Iphigénie en Tauride is a race against death. Empowered by Gluck's music, the French language acquires an astonishing lyrical intensity. In the following century, it stunned the Romantic generation - which would vow unfailing admiration for the German composer - including Berlioz: "The day when, after an anxious wait, I was finally allowed to hear Iphigénie en Tauride, I swore, as I left the Opera, that in spite of my father, my mother, my uncles, my aunts, my grandparents and my friends, I would be a musician."
Tragédie lyrique in four acts
First performed at the Royal Academy of Music in Paris on 18 May 1779
Opéra national de Lorraine
Christoph Willibald Gluck
Opéra national de Lorraine Orchestra
Opéra national de Lorraine Chorus
William Le Sage
Julien Van Mellaerts
2h20 with interval
€ 5 - 75
Performed in French with French surtitles
All audiences from 11 years old
Introduction to the production
45 minutes before the start of the performance (free, on presentation of ticket ). duration approx. 20 minutes.
The performance of March 19 du 19 mars offers a Sunday workshop. For more information, click here.