King Admetus of Thessaly learns from an oracle that he will die unless someone is prepared to do so in his place. When his wife Alcestis offers to sacrifice herself, the gods intervene. Love triumphs over everything – even death. This story by Euripides inspired the composer Christoph Willibald von Gluck and the librettist Ranieri de' Calzabigi to enter into a legendary collaboration. With their Italian 'reform opera' Alceste (1767), which was also to appear later in French, they reacted against the virtuoso excesses of the then prevailing opera seria. They did not put on any gratuitous musical displays, but restricted themselves to streamlined vocal parts, a leading role for the chorus, and an overture that expresses the compelling tenor of the whole drama. René Jacobs conducts B'Rock and the Musica Aeterna chorus in the Italian version of this rarely performed masterpiece. It is directed by Johan Simons.