Synopsis: Iphigénie en Tauride

von Christoph Willibald Gluck

Iphigenia on Tauris

Around the temple of Artemis on the island of Tauris a storm is raging, through which can be
heard the voices of lphigenia (Iphigénie) and her priestesses asking for the protection of the
gods. They oblige, calming the weather, but Iphigenia is tormented by dreams of the death of her parents (Agamemnon and Clytemnestra) and of the murder of her brother (Orestes) by herself. She prays to Artemis.
Thoas, king of Scythia, is fearful when two strangers appear on the island, and he demands their sacrifice to appease the gods.

The strangers turn out to be Pylades (Pylade) and Orestes (Oreste), who has been hounded by the Furies for killing his mother and is seeking atonement by recovering Tauris's statue of Artemis, which has been desecrated by human sacrifice.
Orestes, separated from Pylades, falls to a fit in which the Furies and the ghost of his mother
torment him. lphigenia arrives to question him; he tells her that Agamemnon has been murdered by Clytemnestra, that their son in revenge has murdered his mother, and that he now is dead. Iphigenia laments her fate.

Struck now by Orestes' resemblance to her brother, Iphigenia tries to save him from Thoas by
asking him to take a letter to Elektra, her sister.
Orestes refuses to abandon Pylades, who consents to leave the island, planning to return
with a rescue party.

As Iphigenia prepares for the sacrifice of Orestes, she and her brother recognize each other, but Thoas enters, baying for blood.
In the nick of time, Pylades returns with his crew and kills Thoas.
Artemis descends to ensure that her statue is no longer profaned by human blood.