ARMIDE- A STIRRING OPERA BY GLUCK
This is a fabulous opera full of revenge, love, confusion and torment set to a stirring libretto by Philippe Quinault. It tells the story of Armide and her confusion over the love of her enemy.
It was a ground breaking opera of its time and a huge step for Gluck to take this well loved theme and put his own stamp on it. It was warmly praised at the time and set a fashion for resetting traditional French opera.
The Princess sorceress sits with her two friends Phenice and Sidone and celebrates a victory over the crusaders. She has had a dream of the handsome crusader Renaud with whom she has fallen in love as he went to cut her down. At this point the Princess's uncle and King of Damascus enters to congratulate her on her victory but also to persuade her to marry soon. Armide has fixed views on this and will only marry he who is capable of the defeat of Renaud. As everyone celebrates a wounded Aronte enters and tells of how prisoners have been rescued single handed by the brave knight Renaud.
Renaud and the rescued knight Artemidore talk of the Princess and Renaud dismisses how dangerous she is. As they depart Armide and Hidraot call on the spirits of the underworld to put a spell on Renaud. Evil spirits are transformed into nymphs and shepherds and lull him to sleep. She then appears with a weapon with the aim to kill Renaud but something stops her. She vows to make Renaud love her but is so ashamed that she asks the spirits to take them both to the end of the universe.
The Princess Sorceress confides again in Phenice and Sidonie and although she has made Renaud love her, she cannot control her own feelings for him. She has to choose between her love for him and revenge. She calls on Hate to remove her love for him but then recants and rejects Hate's help. Hate is angered and punishes her by leaving her to love Renaud along with all the confusion and heart ache that comes with it.
Ubalde and a Danish Knight are sent to retrieve Renaud but monsters protect the path. They have been given protection in the form of a diamond shield and a golden sceptre. Both are again tempted in the desert by spirits disguised as their beloveds Lucinde and Melisse and again their protective talismans work.
The Princess fears that she will lose Renaud and goes to take guidance from her evil powers. She leaves her love with the Pleasures who sing and dance, but cannot entertain him. The rescue party enter and the spell is broken much to the horror. As they leave she cannot decide on despair or vengeance but eventually turns to revenge and orders demons to destroy her palace. She leaves her love and vows to gain revenge on Renaud.
THE MAIN ROLES
Armide (Sorprano) - A sorceress and Princess of Damascus
Renaud (Tenor) - a Crusader Knight
Phenice (Sorpano)and Sidone (Soprano)- Friends and confidants
Ubalde (Baritone) and the Danish Knight (Tenor) - Crusaders and rescuers
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