Christoph Willibald Gluck's soft skills in the case «Opera reform in the XVIII century»




opera reform, Vienna of the 18th century, the activities of Giacomo Durazzo, Viennese reformers, soft skills, psychological portrait of Gluck


Relevance of research. The Viennese opera reform in the 18th century, which is closely related to the ideology of the Enlightenment, the activities of Masonic lodges, and the politics of Austrian Chancellor Kaunitz-Rietberg, is still often regarded as a cliché. Not a single domestic study has been devoted to the question of rethinking both the phenomenon of opera reform itself and Gluck's role in it, which determines the article's relevance. In this work, for the first time, the importance of the union of reformers in Vienna for the implementation of the opera reform in the 18th century is emphasized. In overcoming the cliché of "glucocentrism", it seems important to look at Gluck as a person, with certain psychological traits (soft skills in modern language) that allowed him to be effective in co-creation with the Viennese reformers and to achieve personal success. All of the above determines the scientific novelty of the work.

The purpose of the article. To trace the history of the so-called Gluck reform and identify the main participants of the case "Opera reform in the mid-18th century". To investigate what and how Gluck's soft skills helped him to realize his creative potential in the stormy 18th century - at a time of changing worldview paradigms, and contributed to the formation of his place in the history of music as a "great opera reformer".

Methods. To achieve the goal set in the article, a historical (to consider the circumstances of the formation of the request for opera reform and to find out the ways of its solution), cultural (to study the cultural context of the 18th century) and sociological analysis method (to outline Gluck's soft skills) was chosen.

The results and conclusions. From the facts presented in the article, it becomes obvious that the so-called Gluck reform is a successful case of solving the problem of renewing the opera genre, implemented by a team of reformers. The decisive role in this was played by the musical genius and character of Gluck, his character, and the historical context that formed the "request" for reform. The composer had soft skills that, according to modern research, help a person work effectively in a team and achieve success. Undoubtedly, Gluck's soft skills discussed in the article were a guarantee of recognition for both the composer himself and the Viennese opera reform. Most of the crucial issues for understanding the phenomenon of opera reform in the 18th century still require further research, including the analysis of reformed operas as integral performances. and determining the role of Masonic lodges in the implementation of music and theater reform in Vienna.

Author Biography

Ganna Rizaieva, Tchaikovsky National Music Academy of Ukraine

PhD (Arts), Associate Professor of the Department of World Music History


Anfilova S. (2005) Baletnaya muzyka K.V. Glyuka na perekrestke muzykal'no-stilevykh yavlenii serediny XVIII st. [Ballet music by K.V. Gluck at the crossroads of musical and stylistic phenomena of the middle of the XVIII century]. Naukovyi visnyk NMAU im. P. I. Chaikovskoho [Scientific herald of Tchaikovsky National Music Academy of Ukraine]. Іssue 51. Kyïv, pp. 131–138. [in Russian].

Babii O. (2012) Opera «Ifigeniya v Avlide» K.V. Glyuka v intellektual'no-tvorcheskoi refleksii R. Vagnera. [«Ifigenia in Aulide» by Gluck in intelligence-creative reflection by Wagner]. Problema vzaiemodii mystetstva, pedahohiky ta teorii i praktyky osvity [The problem of the interaction of art, pedagogy and the theory and practice of education ]. Іssue 36. Kharkiv, pp. 112–120. [in Russian].

Veselovska H. (2009) Mif pro Ifiheniiu v Tavrydi: Semantychni dominanty muzychno–teatralnoho osmyslennia [The myth of Iphigenia in Tavrida: semantic dominants of musical and theatrical understanding]. Khudozhnia kultura. Aktualni problemу [Art culture. Actual problems]. Іssue 6. pp. 190–207. [in Ukrainian].

Hura N. (2014). Opery K.V. Hliuka v konteksti interpretatsii mifu pro Ifiheniiu v yevropeiskii literaturi. [Gluk's operas in the context of interpretation of the myth of Iphigenia in European literature]. Suchasni literaturoznavchi studii [Modern literary studies]. Іssue 11, pp. 218–228. [in Ukrainian].

Zharkova, V. (2022). Istoriia zakhidnoï muzyky: Homo Musicus vid antychnosti do baroko [Western Music History: Homo Musicus from Antiquity to Baroque] : study guide. ArtHuss, Kyïv, 548 р. Available at: (accessed: 29.12.2022) [in Ukrainian].

Istoriia opery. [History of the opera: study guide]. / Ivanova I. L., Kukol H. V., Cherkashyna M. R. K.: Muzychna Ukraina, 1998. 247 р. [in Ukrainian].

Rozhok V I. (2014). Mystetstvo opery: reformatorskyi potentsial ta istorychni shliakhy yoho vtilennia. [Opera: Reformist Potential and Historical Ways of its Implementation]. Naukovyi visnyk NMAU im. P. I. Chaikovskoho [Scientific herald of Tchaikovsky National Music Academy of Ukraine]. Іssue 1, Kyïv, pp. 86–94. [in Ukrainian].

Cherkashyna-Hubarenko M. R. (2015). Dva «Orfei» v dialozi opernykh reform. [Two "Orpheus" in the dialogue of opera reforms]. Opernyi teatr u minlyvomu chasoprostori [The Opera House in a changing time-space]. Аcta, Kharkiv, pp. 86–94. [in Ukrainian].

Berliner Musik-Zeitung Echo. Verein theoretischer und praktischer Musiker. Berlin, Vol. 1852, 420 p. Available at: (accessed: 5.12.2022) [in German].

Bonds, M. E. (2013). History of Music in Western Culture. 4th ed. Upper-Saddle-River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, 676 p. [in English].

Brown, Bruce Alan. (1991). Gluck and the French Theatre in Vienna. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 525 р. [in English].

Brown, Bruce Alan. (1997). "I cacciatori amanti": The Portrait of Count Giacomo Durazzo and His Wife by Martin van Meytens the Younger. Metropolitan Museum Journal, Vol. 32. pp. 161–174. Available at: (accessed: 2.01.2023) [in English].

Brown, Bruce Alan. (2000). «Mon opéra italien»: Giacomo Durazzo and the Genesis of Alcide al bivio. In Pietro Metastasio: Uomo universal / edited by Andrea Sommer–Mathis and Elisabeth Theresia Hilscher, Vienna, рр. 115–142 [in English].

Christoph Willibald Gluck to The Bailli du Roullet, July-August, 1776. (1962). Collected Correspondence and Papers of Christoph Willibald Gluck / edited by Hedwig and E. H. Mueller von Asow. Translated by Stewart Thomson. London: Barrie and Rockliff, 239 p. Available at: (accessed: 10.12.2022) [in English].

Fauquet Joël–Marie, Berlioz and Gluck. Іn: The Cambridge Companion to Berlioz / ed. Peter Bloom, Cambridge University Press, 2000, pp. 197–210. DOI: [in English].

Goldhill, Simon (2010). «Who Killed Gluck?» in Ancient Drama in Music for the Modern Stage / ed. Peter Brown and Susan Ograjens ek. Oxford: Oxford University Press, рр. 64–88. [in English].

Haas, Robert. (1925). Gluck und Durazzo im Burgtheater. Vienna: Amalthea–Verlag, 216 р. [in German].

Heartz, Daniel. (1995). Haydn, Mozart and the Viennese School, 1740–1780. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 816 р. [in English].

Heartz, Daniel. (1967–1968). From Garrick to Gluck : The Reform of Theatre and Opera in the Mid-Eighteenth Century. Proceedings of the Royal Musical Association. 94th Sess. pp. 111–127. Available at: (accessed: 3.12.2022) [in English].

Hertha, Michel. (1918). Ranieri Calzabigi als Dichter von Musikdramen und als Kritiker. Leipzig, Druck von Breitkopf & Härtel, 90 р. [in German].

Hoffmann E. T. A. «Ritter Gluck. Eine Erinnerung aus dem Jahre 1809», Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung 11.1808–1809. рр. 305–319. [in German].

Howard, Patricia. (2010). «No equal on any stage in Europe»: Guadagni as actor. The Musical Times, SPRING 2010, Vol. 151, No. 1910. рр. 9–21. Available at: URL: (accessed 10.11.2022)

Katz Ruth. (1984). Collective «Problem–Solving» in the History of Music: The Case of the Camerata. Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 45, No. 3. Jul.–Sep., рр. 361–377. Available at: URL: (accessed 15.12.2022).

La figura e l’opera di Ranieri de’ Calzabigi (1989). / ed. Marri, Federico. Florence: L. S. Olschki, 234 р.

Robinson, Michael. (1982). The Ancient and the Modern: A Comparison of Metastasio and Calzabigi. Studies in Music from the University of Western Ontario. рр. 137–147.

Reform. (2002) The New Grove Dictionary of Opera / ed. Stanley Sadie, Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. DOI: [in English].

Rehding Alex. (2010). Music and Monumentality: Commemoration and Wonderment in Nineteenth–Century Germany.Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 109–123. [in English].

Strohm, Reinhard. (1997) Dramma per musica: Italian Opera seria of the Eighteenth Century. New Haven: Yale University Press, 336 р. [in English].

Youell, Amber. (2012). Opera at the Crossroads of Tradition and Reform in Gluck’s Vienna. Requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Columbia University, 379 р. DOI: [in English].

Zechmeister, Gustav. (1971). Die Wiener Theater nachst der Burg und nachst dem Karntnerthor von 1747 bis 1776. Vienna: Böhlau, 632 р. [in German]





Opera art: musical and non-musical contexts