Education: Chastity Triumphant

The cheers that are sweeping the Paris Opera mark the triumph of this spring's new sensation: Christoph Willibald Gluck's Alceste. They mark the triumph too of the "reformers" who are determined to abolish the exaggerated trills and cadenzas of the Italian stage. Writes Britain's Charles Burney, author of the erudite new General history of Music: "The chevalier Gluck is simplifying music . . . He tries all he can to keep his music chaste." Retorts popular Librettist Pietro Metastasio: Gluck is a composer of "surprising fire, but mad."

When Gluck's opera was...