Gluck’s Operatic Manifesto
Christoph Willibald Gluck was a pioneer of opera reform and in turn was partially responsible for the internationalization of opera. He believed that the music should be subservient to the poetry, not to the whim of the composer or the whim of the over-enthusiastic singer, who at that time was quite keen on adding heavy embellishments to any vocal line of music given to him or her. In doing so, he melded French and Italian styles to create a new integrated style of opera.
He was a strong detractor of the da capo aria form, believing that if an aria is supposed to take a character in their emotional development from point A to point B, then it seemed counterproductive to return to point A at the end of the aria. He also added choral music, duets, trios and larger groups to a form that was mostly made up of recitatives and solo pieces. However, he did not do this indiscriminately. His idea of composing music for opera was to strive for simplicity, adding as few virtuosic passages as possible, except when necessary for dramatic intent.