Description of Gluck's Alceste from the Bavarian State Opera's website:
The title character in Christoph Willibald Gluck's opera Alceste demonstrates an almost superhuman willpower. To save her husband's life, Alceste sacrifices her own. The compositional reforms in his dramatic works show how much he was ahead of his contemporaries in both the themes he addressed in his operas and in his musical arrangements. The recitatives of the singers are no longer accompanied by the harpsichord alone – strings also come along now. A new connection between music and text has never been created so colourfully and with such instrumental diversity.