If the title characters of Paride ed Elena don't ring a bell, it's just a matter of translation: Gluck's 1770 opera dramatizes the romance of Paris and Helen on the eve of the Trojan War. In doing so, it expands on a moment that gets passed over in most versions of the story, as love struck Paris woos the beautiful Helen toward a happy ending that the audience knows will be short-lived. Paride ed Elena is the last and least-known of three operas Gluck wrote with the librettist Ranieri de' Calzabigi -- the so-called reform operas, of which Orfeo ed Euridice has always been the most popular, followed by Alceste and more distantly by the almost-forgotten Paride. But centuries of neglect make this score's rediscovery all the sweeter, especially given the quality of the performance captured here. Magdalena Kozená is ideally suited for the role of Paris, originally composed for a castrato; lying on the high side of the mezzo-soprano range, her voice also has the agility and the impassioned personality to bring this character to life. Kozená had already included two of Paris's arias on her album Le Belle Immagini, and it's an unexpected delight to hear her sing the complete role, especially the rapturous serenade to Helen at the opera's center, "Quegli occhi belli." The cast of Paride is small, with only three other singers -- all sopranos -- but much variety is provided by the orchestral interludes and dances (some of which even represent an athletic tournament), performed with delectable style by the Gabrieli Consort and Players under period-instrument specialist Paul McCreesh. Whether you're intrigued by the opera's rarity quotient or just by the prospect of fabulous singing, this recording is sure to satisfy.