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date: 15 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter shows how a singer could “rescue” a work in canonic terms. Whereas Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice (1774) had not been performed in Paris since 1833, Pauline Viardot took a key role in re-solidifying not only the opera but also Gluck’s reputation generally; by the same token, Gluck’s music, in turn, helped Viardot leave a legacy in the history of great singers. The new version of Orphée, premiered at the Théâtre-Lyrique on 18 November 1859, featured Viardot in the title role, a performance that stunned Parisian audiences and critics alike. While the scope of singers’ authority had diminished somewhat, important opportunities arose to shape a canon as it evolved and expanded, and Viardot certainly did so in the case of Gluck. This chapter is paired with Kimberly White’s “Setting the standard: Singers, theater practices, and the opera canon in nineteenth-century France.”

Keywords: Alceste, Marilyn Horne, Hector Berlioz, Théâtre-Lyrique, Pauline Viardot, Christoph Willibald Gluck, Orphée et Eurydice, agency, diva, divo

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