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Gluck, Christoph Willibald: Alceste
Act 2: Recitative and Aria, “Ô moments délicieux!...Bannis les craintes et les alarmes” (Admète)
Aria Talk •
Editor's Note: Aria Talk focuses not on the tried-and-true pieces you undoubtedly already know, but on somewhat off-the-beaten-track arias. The hope is that this music will prove a refreshing musical and interpretive change not only for you, the performer, but also for those hearing you in auditions.
Too many tenors make themselves miserable by crashing and burning in the arias of Roméo and Faust. Gluck’s Admète is also not easy, but it’s not about floating high Cs or nailing forte B-flats either. Provided you’re really comfortable in the passaggio and can offer really elegant French, you’ll find Admète a special pleasure.
The character is King of Thessaly and husband of Alceste. At the command of Apollo’s Oracle, the fatally ill Admète will die unless another life is offered in his place. Alceste determines to sacrifice herself for her husband. Admète immediately and miraculously recovers. When Admète next sees Alceste, he does not yet know of her decision. He notices her distress and, in his aria, he urges her to rid herself of all fear while letting pleasure dry her tears.
As with so many of Gluck’s shorter arias, the form is ABA. There is to each section a marvelous “airborne” quality, supported by the transparency and grace of the accompaniment. The line itself consistently communicates the king’s confidence and positiveness, as well as his gentle, heartfelt concern for his wife. The voice must be capable of absolutely clean leaps of a fifth and sixth, as well as easy, frequent stepwise ascents from E to high A.
Score: Bärenreiter, Kalmus
Recording: Paul Groves, complete opera, Philips #470293
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