Paris: Lemarchand, [ca. 1774].
Folio. 19th century quarter dark brown leather-backed marbled boards, spine in decorative compartments gilt, titling gilt. 1f. (recto title, verso publisher's catalogue), 1f. (recto dedication, verso argument), 217 pp.
With an inscription signed by the Canadian conductor Wilfrid Pelletier (1896-1982) to Italian conductor Tullio Serafin (1878-1968) dated New York 1928 to front flyleaf.
Bass figurings added in manuscript to pp. 10-12, Act I, scene 1; final page of music signed by the publisher Lemarchand.
Binding worn; edges rubbed; spine split at joints and hinges; chipped at head and tail. Slightly worn and browned; title soiled, with outer edge reinforced with paper tape; some minor staining; several repairs to inner margins; occasional small holes.
First Edition, variant issue. Hopkinson 41A(f). Wotquenne 41. Lesure p. 240. RISM G2852 (not distinguishing among issues).
"The classical orientation of Calzabigi, evident in Orfeo ed Euridice from the moment the curtain rose on the almost archaeologically recreated ancient funerary ritual (e.g. the threefold calling of the name of the deceased), coloured the entirety of his collaboration with Gluck. Despite the ambiguous attributions of the prefaces signed by the composer, it is clear that Gluck largely shared his librettist's classical enthusiasms... It is revealing that Gluck sought out subject matter from Greek tragedy, independently of Calzabigi, after the latter's departure from Vienna – most probably with his inner conviction mixing with a desire to exploit the goût grec then prevailing in France... Calzabigi's poetry was almost completely devoid of metaphors and similes, and placed a mere three characters in a fluid context of dances and choruses (or both simultaneously). The action was reduced to essentials: a demonstration of the persuasive powers of music, and a cautionary tale on the dangers of curiosity, with Orpheus bewailing the loss of his wife already as the curtain rose. Gluck's approach as composer was no less radical, particularly in his near-complete elimination of coloratura and of opening ritornellos in the solo numbers. Above all, the opera was remarkable in its emphasis on continuity, which was achieved chiefly through the enchaining of harmonically open-ended sections of music and through the complete avoidance of recitativo semplice in favour of orchestrally accompanied recitatives (so as to avoid sharp contrasts of texture with the set pieces). This continuity and the nearly syllabic vocal writing were calculated to prevent applause, and thus also to promote the audience's absorption in the spectacle." Bruce Alan Brown and Julian Rushton in Grove Music Online.
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