• Changing the Catastrophe: The Political Context of Gluck's Orfeo

    Author(s):
    James Tuller (see profile)
    Date:
    2006
    Subject(s):
    18th-century music
    Item Type:
    Article
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/a9ye-3y37
    Abstract:
    The traditional criticism of "Orfeo" is that it was disfigured by the occasion for which it was composed, the name day of the Emperor, a circumstance that prompted the incorporation of incongruously cheerful features, the overture and the happy ending. However, an examination of its political context reveals that the opera was commissioned at precisely the moment when the Austrian government realized that it was about to suffer a disaster, its defeat in the Seven Years' War. The opera's famous lament, "Che faro, senza Eurdice" is composed in the "happy key" of C major. Its dignified expression of grief was precisely the lesson desired by Kaunitz, the Prime Minister, who was responsible for both foreign policy and the cultural affairs of Vienna.
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    Last Updated:
    3 days ago
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