C.W. Gluck:
 Iphigénie en Tauride

 A plot summary from Opera~Opera -- Australasia's
 independent monthly newspaper of the musical
 theatre, established in 1978.
                                    Aug 97

                                    The action has its roots in the beginning of the Trojan War, when
                                    Agamemnon was forced to carry out a rash vow and consent to the
                                    sacrifice of his elder daughter, Iphigenia, to procure a favorable wind
                                    for the Greek fleet. At the last minute, the goddess Diana rescued
                                    Iphigenia under the cover of a cloud and transported her to Tauris,
                                    where she served as Diana's priestess. Meanwhile, Clytemnestra,
                                    Agamemnon's wife, driven partly by anger at the supposed death of her
                                    daughter, has killed Agamemnon, and Orestes, their son, has, at the
                                    instigation of the gods, killed his mother to avenge his father's murder.
                                    With his friend Pylades, he arrives in Tauris, following the command of
                                    Diana to rescue her images.

Jacques Louis David, Anger of Achilles
after Euripides's, Iphigeneia At Aulis
Iphigeneia is not to marry Achilles, but die....

                                    ACT I

                                    The entrance to the temple of Diana As a storm rages, Iphigenia and her
                                    fellow priestesses pray for deliverance from their exile. Iphigenia recounts a
                                    dream in which the palace of Mycenae had burnt to the ground and
                                    Agamemnon was murdered. Her mother had handed her a sword and when
                                    she tried to approach her brother Orestes, she succeeded only in thrusting
                                    the sword into his breast. She begs Diana to withdraw the boon of life and
                                    let her die. Thoas, King of Tauris, unsettled by an oracle, begs Iphigenia to
                                    intercede with the gods on his behalf. He is convinced that only blood will
                                    appease them and is relieved when his followers announce the capture of
                                    two Greeks. He demands their immediate sacrifice. Orestes and Pylades are
                                    brought in and Orestes regrets that he will be the cause of Pylades' death.

                                    ACT II

                                    Inside the temple

                                    Pylades tries to comfort Orestes, who is haunted by his murder of his mother
                                    and by his responsibility for the death of his friend, who, however, is glad
                                    that they will die together. Pylades is taken away and Orestes is tormented
                                    by the Furies.

                                    When Iphigenia appears before him, he believes she is the ghost of his
                                    mother. In answer to her questions about her home, he tells her, without
                                    revealing his identity, of the terrible events in Mycenae, diverging from the
                                    truth only in telling her that Orestes has found the death he sought. Iphigenia
                                    and the priestesses lament the tragedy that has struck their homeland.

                                    ACT III

                                    Iphigenia's apartment

                                    Iphigenia grieves for the death of her brother, of whom the stranger reminds
                                    her, and consents to the wish of the priestesses that she communicate with
                                    her sister Electra, to which end she resolves to defy Thoas and save the life
                                    of one of the prisoners, though it is out of her power to save both.

                                    Because of the affinity she feels for him, she chooses Orestes, but he
                                    resolutely refuses his life, partly in the hope of saving Pylades and partly
                                    because of his guilt; but Pylades refuses to take his place. It is only when
                                    Orestes threatens to kill himself if he is not chosen as the sacrifice that
                                    Iphigenia yields. She gives the astonished Pylades a letter for Electra, but
                                    refuses to answer his questions. He is still resolved to save Orestes.

                                    ACT IV

                                    Inside the temple

                                    As the trembling Iphigenia prepares to sacrifice her brother, he assures her
                                    that death is welcome, but his mention of his sister Iphigenia reveals his
                                    identity. When Thoas, already enraged at the escape of Pylades, demands
                                    his death, Iphigenia defies him. Pylades kills Thoas and Diana tells Orestes to
                                    take her images, return with Iphigenia and reign in Mycenae.

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