When her husband’s life is threatened by Apollo’s oracle, Alceste decides to stand by her man, offering to die in his place. The god Hercules is so moved by her generous spirit that he helps restore the pair to a long and happy life. Santa Fe favorite Christine Brewer performs the famously challenging title role, partnered by tenor Paul Groves, in his Santa Fe debut, as her spouse; Wayne Tigges returns as Hercules. Kenneth Montgomery is the conductor. Francisco Negrin, who staged Santa Fe’s Agrippina in 2004, will direct, collaborating with Louis Désiré, who makes his company debut designing the scenery and costumes.
Composed by Christoph Willibald Gluck
Performed in French
A herald proclaims to the crowd of despairing citizens of Thessaly that King Admetus is close to death. Alceste voices her own sorrow, then leads the people to the temple to offer a sacrifice to Apollo and to plead for the king’s life. In the temple, before a statue of Apollo, the High Priest prays for the king. At the prayer’s climax, the High Priest announces that Apollo is present. His oracle speaks through the statue, declaring that the king will die that same day if no one is willing to die in his place. The people flee, leaving Alceste alone. She resolves to save her husband. The High Priest accepts her vow and tells her that before night falls, her husband will recover and she will die.
The citizens celebrate the recovery of their king. When Admetus asks how his health has been restored, he is informed of the oracle’s decree and of the anonymous sacrifice. Admetus is shocked, and rejects the sacrifice, declaring that he would rather give his own life. Alceste enters, and while she struggles to hide her sorrow, Admetus questions her incessantly about the unknown victim. The truth is unveiled and Admetus refuses to accept life on such terms, threatening to annul her vow by killing himself. When Admetus leaves, Alceste reaffirms her decision to die in his place.
Evander, a leading citizen of Thessaly, leads the people in mourning. Hercules enters and Evander explains that Alceste has already made her way to the altar of death, followed by Admetus. Hercules declares his intent to rescue her. Admetus joins Alceste at the entrance to the underworld. Alceste urges him to live for the sake of his children and his subjects, but he rejects her arguments. Each competes in offering to die to save the other. An underworld god offers Alceste one last chance to rescind her offer. She refuses, and is at the point of dying when Hercules enters. He drives back the spirits, and restores Alceste to her husband. The god Apollo appears. He rewards Hercules with the promise of immortality and commands Admetus and Alceste to live as a model of marital devotion.
- Alceste - Christine Brewer
- Admete - Paul Groves
- Hercules - Wayne Tigges
- Conductor - Kenneth Montgomery
- Director - Francisco Negrin
- Scenic Designer - Louis Desire
- Costume Designer - Louis Desire
- Lighting Designer - Duane Schuler
- Choreographer - Ana Yepes
(Scenic & Costume Designer)
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