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Philippi, Daniela. "Ballet Performance as Motivation for Pasticcio Practices - Gluck's and Berton's Cythère assiégée (1775)."

Philippi, Daniela. "Ballet Performance as Motivation for Pasticcio Practices - Gluck's and Berton's Cythère assiégée (1775)." In Operatic Pasticcios in 18th-Century Europe: Contexts, Materials and Aesthetics, edited by Berthold Over and Gesa zur Nieden, 575-588. Bielefeld: transcript Verlag, 2021.

In Gluck’s operatic work and performance practice one encounters several models of collaboration with artists for the realization of stage presentations and works and the combination of already existing ‘numbers’ with newly composed pieces. Another kind of combining was and is common for the music that is used for the realization of stage dance. In Gluck’s biography, the stage dance had different meanings in several creative phases and in quite different ways. In the late 1750s and early 1760s, Gluck was at first only the arranger of ballet performances at the Viennese court theaters, and later developed his musical and dramatical conception for the ballet pantomime with its innovative features (see especially Don Juan, 1761). His conception of opera (starting with Orfeo ed Euridice, 1762) integrated the dramatic acting component of the pantomime as well as expressive dance. But, looking to the reform operas that Gluck created in the 1760s and 1770s, it turns out that his integration of stage dance or instrumental music was stylistically quite diverse. In other words, Gluck did not always integrate stage dance in the same way, but decided on the use of dance music for pantomimic acting depending on the subject or dramatic situation, the compositional context and the performance conditions. With Cythère assiégée, composed for Paris in 1775, we have a special case. Based on Gluck’s opéra comique from 1759 this stage work can be attributed to the genre of opéra ballet with its typical alternation of vocal and instrumental airs. However, continuous action is part of its three-act conception. Regarding Gluck’s borrowing practices, his combinations and transformations of earlier pieces may well be worthy of note, but more interesting is the case of Act III of Cythère. This is because the sources which came down to us indicate pasticcio-like practices for performances in Paris in 1775. For this reason, the following article will focus exclusively on Act III.

Year of publication: 2021

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