The great difficulty with Gluck operas is that very little action happens in them; as an undergrad, I was shown as a sample his Orpheus opera, which was the only one the library had video of, because there at least there was them walking out of the underworld and Orpheus turning around. Iphigenie en Tauride mostly has in its libretto the three main characters sitting around in chains and wandering around an altar, though at least there’s a brief battle and Diana’s dramatic entrance at the end.
There are various ways this difficulty can be dealt with. In the Met’s production, imported from Seattle, there’s a bit of dancing and dance-like blocking, which is appropriate enough for a French opera, and explanatory dumbshow featuring Agamemnon and Clytemnestra wandering around and wielding knives, which works less well, especially since it left me unsure if it would have been comprehendable if I hadn’t already known the story. At least the set was good, with the temple and the adjoining dungeon cell well set and creatively used.
But once again it falls to the singers to carry it, which they should be able to, since Gluck deliberately writes to demand that they do. Luckily we had Susan Graham and Placido Domingo on hand. It was announced just before the show began that they both had bad colds, but nobody at their level was going to let that stop them; they both sang and acted their hearts out, and you even stopped caring that Orestes is being portrayed by a guy who’s in his 70s! He then flirted with her during the interview, and he and Paul Groves allowed us to watch them being made up during intermission(Groves got bloodied) since there was no set change. He was in fact very aware of everyone watching, even telling one of the guys working at him to wave! 😀
So Gluck’s strengths get shown to perfection, and so do his flaws. Fun times.