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Music with Ease > Classical Music > Concert Guide: Classical Era > Overture, "Iphigenia in Tauris" - Gluck


Overture, "Iphigenia in Tauris"

Christoph Willibald von Gluck
(1714-87)



The overture to "Iphigenia in Tauris" is not an overture in the strict sense, but a brief prelude. It is discussed in this article for the reason that it introduces one of the grandest of Gluck’s operas, the one indeed which settled his preeminence in the famous Gluck-Piccini war at the time when the Académie de Musique of Paris commissioned the two rivals to produce an opera on the same subject, and Gluck carried off the laurels. It was set to the text written by the poet Guillard, who based his libretto on the tragedy by Guimand de la Touche, and was first produced in 1779. The prelude simply describes a calm, peaceful sea and then a furious storm, during which Iphigenia enters with the priestesses and offers a prayer of thankfulness. The prelude is in keeping with Gluck’s idea that "the overture ought to indicate the subject and prepare the spectators for the character of the piece they are to see."





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