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The Sunday Opera: Gluck's "Alceste" from the Bavarian State Opera

We’re beginning our series of operas from the WFMT Radio Network featuring productions from around the country and from around the world on this week’s Sunday Opera (5/31 3:00 p.m.) with the Bavarian State Opera’s version of Christoph Willibald Gluck’s “Alceste.”  In this, the second or Paris version from 1776, Alceste willingly sacrifices herself to Apollo to save her critically ill husband Admete, the King of Thessaly.  When Admete learns this, he is angered and declares it is he who should die because he could not live without her.  

The couple travel to Hades, and at the gates, the gods leave the decision to Alceste who immediately offers herself.  Hercules, who has just arrived in Thessaly to dine with his longtime friend Admete, learns of this and travels to Hades to rescue and revive Alceste.  Apollo then appears, praises the actions of Hercules, and declares that Admete and Alceste will both be spared.  In this performance from 2019, Alceste is Dorothea Roschmann and Admete is Charles Castronovo.  They’re joined by Michael Nagy as the High Priest and Hercules, Manuel Gunther as Evandre, Sean Michael Plumb as Apollo and a Herald, and Callum Thorpe as the Oracle and an Infernal Deity.  Antonello Manacorda conducts the Bavarian State Opera Chorus and Orchestra.   

Join Michael Kownacky after the opera for more glorious music to fill your afternoon including Anton Bruchner’s massive Symphony No. 8 in C minor.  

We’ll close the afternoon with a special performance of an incredible work by Paul Moravec and Mark Campbell in their “Light Shall Lift Us,” a piece originally written for the benefit concert One Voice Orlando which raised funds for the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting.  As an anthem of hope and solidarity, it has been recorded by over 100 opera singers and subtitled “Singers Unite in Song” at the behest of OPERA America and is truly a perfect work for the times in which we live.

Michael is program host and host of the WWFM Sunday Opera, Sundays at 3 pm, and co-host of The Dress Circle, Sundays at 7 pm.