Orfeo ed Euridice was composed by Christoph Willibald Gluck to an Italian libretto by Ranieri de’ Calzabigi, based on Greek mythology. It belongs to the genre of azione teatrale, meaning a smaller-scale opera. The piece debuted at the Burgtheater in Vienna on 5 October 1762. Orfeo ed Euridice rankes as the first of Gluck’s “reform” operas, in which he attempted to replace the intricate plots and overly virtuoso singing of opera seria with a “noble simplicity” in both the music and the drama. However, the perfunctory happy ending, the use of archaic instruments in the orchestra, and the main role allotted to the alto castrato Gaetano Guadagni, point back to the earlier genre of Baroque court entertainment. In 1774, Gluck reworked his score as Orphée et Eurydice, with several alterations in vocal casting and orchestration to suit the French taste.
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