Iphigenia In Aulis
In three acts by GLUCK.
Text of the original rearranged by R. WAGNER.
This opera, though it does not stand from the point of view of the
artist on the same level with Iphigenia in Tauris, deserves
nevertheless to be represented on every good stage. It may be called
the first part of the tragedy, and Iphigenia in Tauris very beautifully
completes it. The music is sure to be highly relished by a cultivated
hearer, characterized as it is by a simplicity which often rises into
grandeur and nobility of utterance.
The first scene represents Agamemnon rent by a conflict between his
duty and his fatherly love; the former of which demands the sacrifice
of his daughter, for only then will a favorable wind conduct the Greeks
safely to Ilion. Kalchas, the High-priest of Artemis, appears to
announce her dreadful sentence. Alone with the King, Kalchas vainly
tries to induce the unhappy father to consent to the sacrifice.
Meanwhile Iphigenia, who has not received Agamemnon's message, which
ought to have prevented her undertaking the fatal journey, arrives with
her mother Klytemnestra. They are received with joy by the people.
Agamemnon secretly informs his spouse, that Achilles, Iphigenia's
betrothed, has proved unworthy of her, and that she is to return to
Argos at once.--Iphigenia gives way to her feelings. Achilles appears,
the lovers are soon reconciled and prepare to celebrate their nuptials.
In the second act Iphigenia is adorned for her wedding and Achilles
comes to lead her to the altar, when Arkas, Agamemnon's messenger,
informs them that death awaits Iphigenia.
Klytemnestra in despair appeals to Achilles and the bridegroom swears
to protect Iphigenia. She alone is resigned in the belief, that it is
her father's will that she should face this dreadful duty. Achilles
reproaches Agamemnon wildly and leaves the unhappy father a prey to
mental torture. At last he decides to send Arkas at once to Mykene
with mother and daughter and to hide them there, until the wrath of the
goddess be appeased. But it is too late.
In the third act the people assemble before the Royal tent and with
much shouting and noise demand the sacrifice. Achilles in vain
implores Iphigenia to follow him. She is ready to be sacrificed, while
he determines to kill anyone, who dares touch his bride. Klytemnestra
then tries everything in her power to save her. She offers herself in
her daughter's stead and finding it of no avail at last sinks down in a
swoon. The daughter, having bade her an eternal farewell, with quiet
dignity allows herself to be led to the altar. When her mother awakes,
she rages in impotent fury; then she hears the people's hymn to the
goddess, and rushes out to die with her child.--The scene changes.--The
High-priest at the altar of Artemis is ready to pierce the innocent
victim. A great tumult arises, Achilles with his native Thessalians
makes his way through the crowd, in order to save Iphigenia, who
loudly invokes the help of the goddess. But at this moment a loud
thunder-peal arrests the contending parties, and when the mist, which
has blinded all, has passed, Artemis herself is seen in a cloud with
Iphigenia kneeling before her.
The goddess announces that it is Iphigenia's high mind, which she
demands and not her blood, she wishes to take her into a foreign land,
where she may be her priestess and atone for the sins of the blood of
A wind favorable to the fleet has risen, and the people filled with
gratitude and admiration behold the vanishing cloud and praise the
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