Simplicity, truth and naturalness: these, according to Gluck, are the eternal attributes of beauty and the ultimate goal to which he aspired. "Alceste must not merely please us now while she is still a novelty. She must be timeless. I maintain that it will still delight in two hundred years' time, if the French language remains unchanged, and the reason is that I have built my foundations upon Nature, and Nature is not subject to fashion." To a considerable extent, the strength of Gluck's opera lies not so much in the splendour of his music as in his highly personal use of language and it is thanks to the enduring essence of language that Alceste has stood the test of time. The French of François du Roullet, Gluck's librettist, although no more an everyday language in the 18th century than it is today, is an ideal language. Whilst assuming a physical reality in words and intonation, the language of Alceste also takes wing with a sense of prodigious and timeless ceremony. Véronique Gens takes on the unique role under the baguette of Marc Minkowski in a production by Olivier Py.