This time around I’m skipping the Met’s revival of its Mark Morris production of Orfeo ed Euridice, but its composer is rarely off my mind, so Chris’s Cache offers three striking interpretations of another Gluck masterpiece Alceste from Janet Baker, Anna Caterina Antonacci, and Véronique Gens.

Seven years ago, I posted on Trove Thursday a recording of the last time I heard Alceste in person: Jessye Norman’s majestic interpretation from Lyric Opera of Chicago. Unfortunately, in the intervening years I still haven’t attended another Alceste.

The thrilling Baker performance has been issued on CD but it’s currently out of print. The version included today is my own digitized reel-to-reel copy I purchased very soon after the original broadcast. Another of Antonacci’s most celebrated portrayals is Gluck’s Armide in which she starred on La Scala’s 1996 opening night.

She also performed (a little late) the Tauride Iphigénie, but it’s sad she never ventured Clitemnestre or Orphée.

Gens, who also sang the Tauride Iphigénie, recently took on Armide and will be Clitemnestre this summer in a most interesting production: an ambitious double bill in July at the Aix-en-Provence Festival where Iphigénie en Aulide and Iphigénie en Tauride will be performed together on the same evening with Emmanuele Haïm conducting and Dmitri Tcherniakov directing Corinne Winters as the title heroine of both works.

Gluck: Alceste (French Version—1776)

Alceste: Janet Baker
Admète: Robert Tear
Grand-Prêtre: John Shirley-Quirk
Hercules: Jonathan Summers

Conductor: Charles Mackerras
Royal Opera, Covent Garden
12 December 1981

Alceste – Anna Caterina Antonacci
Admète – Charles Workman
Grand-Prêtre: Johan Reuter
Hercule: Luca Pisaroni

Conductor: Ivor Bolton
Salzburg Festival
Salzburger Bachchor
Mozarteum Orchester Salzburg
10 August 2005

Alceste: Véronique Gens
Admète: Joseph Kaiser
Le Grand Prêtre: Andrew Schroeder
Hercule: Thomas Oliemans

Conductor: Ivor Bolton
Aix-en-Provence Festival
The English Voices
Freiburger Barockorchester
6 July 2010

Each Alceste can be downloaded by clicking on the icon of a cloud with an arrow pointing downward on the audio player above and the resulting mp3 file will appear in your download directory.

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