ALBUM TITLE: Gluck: Paride ed Elena
WORKS: Paride ed Elena
PERFORMER: Magdalena Koz
CATALOGUE NO: 477 5415
Here is a splendid revival by Paul McCreesh and an excellent cast, as seen at the Barbican in 2003, of one of Gluck’s lesser-known dramatic works. Where the composer’s previous ‘reform’ operas, Orfeo and Alceste, had been dramas of life and death, Paride ed Elena deals with a gallant subject: Paris’s wooing of Helen, here betrothed rather than married to Menelaus. Cupid pulls the strings, while Athene appears as a malign dea ex machina to utter warnings of future carnage – which the lovers blithely disregard.
McCreesh and his superb orchestra relish Gluck’s portrayal of contrasting worlds and generate plenty of tension when the emotional temperature finally begins to rise.Though Paride ed Elena is even more static than Alceste, variety comes from Gluck’s portrayal of the two contrasting national characters, Sparta and Troy. The Trojan Paris sings music in Gluck’s most ravishing, voluptuous vein, while Helen, far from being a sex-kitten, maintains a certain Spartan aloofness until her final capitulation. These national contrasts are magnified in the splendid choruses and ballet numbers.
McCreesh’s singers turn to advantage the opera’s all-soprano cast. The set’s star draw, Magdalena Koz