Il Parnaso confuso
Christoph Willibald Gluck
Il Parnaso confuso (UK premiere)
Azione teatrale in one act
Libretto by Pietro Metastasio
English translation by Gilly French
The Deanery garden, Bampton: 18, 19 July 2014
The Barn at Bury Court: 12 August 2014
Westonbirt School: 25 August 2014
St John's, Smith Square: 16 September 2014
Gluck is renowned for Orfeo ed Euridice but his numerous smaller stage works unaccountably remain little known. Bampton Classical Opera has already presented Le Cinesi and La danza and in June 2011 gave the UK concert première of Gluck's Il Parnaso confuso, a one-act opera of ravishing beauty, at the Purcell Room, London. Setting a charming libretto by Pietro Metastasio, this lyrical and gentle comedy of Olympian manners was composed in 1765 as a wedding opera for the Hapsburg Archduke Joseph, and sung by four Archduchesses, all children of the Empress Maria Theresa.
On the snow-capped peaks of Mount Parnassus, three delectable Muses - Euterpe (Music), Erato (Lyric Poetry) and Melpomene (Tragedy) - are thrilled to learn from Apollo that their artistic inspiration is required to grace the wedding of the Emperor. But excitement turns to despair when they hear that the wedding is to be the next day - it really is unreasonable to be expected to conjure up high art with such unseemly haste. Apollo leaves them to argue the issues out amongst themselves, but when he returns little progress appears to have been made. The situation could not be worse - the Emperor has brought forward the wedding, and it has already happened. What will be said if the Muses don't make an appearance at the reception? They'll just have to put aside their pride and artistic scruples and get on with it....
Rare gems shine bright
The Oxford Times, 24 July 2014