- Christoph Willibald von Gluck. Dramma per musica in five acts. 1770.
- Libretto by Ranieri de’Calzabigi.
- First performance at the Burgtheater, Vienna, on 3rd November 1770.
|Paride (Paris), son of King Priam of Troy ||male soprano|
|Elena (Helen), Queen of Sparta ||soprano|
|Amore (Cupid), under the name of Erasto, confidant of Paris ||soprano|
|Pallas Athene (Minerva), goddess, daughter of Jupiter ||soprano|
|A Trojan ||soprano|
Paris, having chosen Venus above Juno and Minerva, is in Sparta, sacrificing to Venus and
seeking, now with the encouragement of Erasto, the love of Helen. Paris and Helen meet at her royal
palace and each is struck by the other’s beauty. She calls on him to judge an athletic contest and
when asked to sing he does so in praise of her beauty, admitting the purpose of his visit is to win her
love. She dismisses him. In despair Paris now pleads with her, and she begins to give way.
Eventually, through the intervention of Erasto, who now reveals himself as Cupid, she gives way,
but Pallas Athene (Minerva) now warns them of sorrow to come. In the final scene Paris and Helen
make ready to embark for Troy.
Paride ed Elena (Paris and Helen) is the third of Gluck’s so-called reform operas for Vienna,
following Alceste (Alcestis) and Orfeo ed Euridice (Orpheus and Eurydice), and the least often
performed of the three. Arias from the opera that enjoy an independent concert existence include
Paris’s minor-key declaration of love, O del mio dolce ardor (O of my gentle love), in the first act.
His second aria is Spiagge amate (Beloved shores). In the second act, again in a minor key, Paris
fears that he may lose Helen in Le belle imagini (The fair semblance) and in the fourth would prefer
death to life without Helen, Di te scordarmi, e vivere (To forget you and to live). The rôle of Paris
offers difficulties of casting, written, as it was, for a relatively high castrato voice. Arias of Paris
have been purloined by tenors, with transposition an octave lower, or appropriated by sopranos and