music by Christoph Wilibald Gluck
libretto by Philippe Quineault
sung in French
conductor: Melissa Doiron
stage directors: David Mosey and Nina Scott-Stoddart
choreographer: Andrew Pelrine
pianist: Giancarlo Scalia
stage manager: Vanessa LePine
vocal coach: Maurren Batt
vocal coach: Angie Aldarondo
costumes: Andrew Pelrine
Alexander Technique: Ailsa Galbreath
Performances August 11, 12, 13 (7:30 pm) and 14 (2:00 pm)
Lillian Piercey Concert Hall
Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts
6199 Chebucto Road, Halifax
Tickets available online at Eventbrite or at the door.
Some themes of drugged, magical and non-consensual sexual activity are explored, especially regarding a man having no agency over a woman’s advances. While not sexually explicit in any way, this content may be disturbing or challenging to some viewers.
|Armide by Gluck||Thursday August 11, 7:30 pm and Saturday August 13, 7:30 pm||Friday August 12, 7:30 pm and Sunday August 14, 2:00 pm
|Armide, a sorceress||Megan Cullen (USA)||Agnès Ménard (France)
|Renaud, her enchanted lover, a crusader||Colin Frotten (NS)||Colin Frotten (NS)
|Phénice, her friend||Amanda Godin (NB)||Vivien Illion (ON)
|Sidonie, her friend||Claire Hartlen||Joanna Loepp Thiessen
|Hidraot, Armide's aunt, queen of Damascus||Emma Yee (ON)||Emma Yee (ON)
|La Haine, the personification of Hatred||Sarah Storms (ON)||Joelle Kontos (ON)
|Démone Lucinde||Clare Lowe (ON)||Elizabeth Fast (AB)
|Démone Melisse||Mélanie Dupuis (NB)||Mélanie Dupuis (NB)
|Artemidore/Le chevalier danois, a crusader||Alan Krishna (Mexico)||Alan Krishna (Mexico)
|Ubalde, a crusader||MarKo Hubert (QC/NS)||MarKo Hubert (QC/NS)
|Aronte/Plaisir||Anna O'Drowsky (ON)||Anna O'Drowsky (ON)
|Naïde, a water nymph||Annika Williams||Julia Jordan (ON)
|La bergère, a shepherdess||Maria Gallaugher||Megan Wakefield (USA)
In 1777, the German composer Christoph Willibald Gluck, who was living and working in Paris, daringly decided to set Quinault’s libretto for Armide to music. It was daring, because the last composer who set this libretto was the immortal Lully, and with this choice Gluck was basically throwing down the gauntlet to claim mastery over French opera.
The original story is set in Syria during the Crusades. The sorceress Armide, along with the citizens of Damascus, hope to overcome the knight Renaud and his followers. She manages to ensnare her enemy with her magic spells, but, at the moment she raises her dagger to kill him, she finds herself falling in love with him. Armide casts a spell to Renaud him love her in return. Upon returning to her castle, she cannot bear that Renaud’s love is only the work of enchantment. She calls on the Goddess of Hate to restore her hatred for Renaud, but fails to escape from her feelings of love for him. The Goddess condemns Armide to eternal love. Before Armide can return to Renaud, two of his fellow soldiers overcome Armide’s enchantments, rescue Renaud and break Armide’s spell. Renaud manages to escape from Armide, who is left enraged, despairing, and hopeless.
It’s a story about a clash of cultures and about male versus female power, but most of all it’s about the many ways that love can enchant, confuse, torment and destroy us.
There are many wonderful roles for all voice types, and every role has at least a very nice featured solo. The music is mid-Classical, with flavours of late Handel, Haydn, early Mozart and solid French style. We’ll be performing it in French.
Armide’s two confidantes Phenice and Sidonie are celebrating her recent victory over the crusaders and trying to distract her from her preoccupation with the idea of defeating Renaud, the most valiant crusader of them all. Armide describes how she has recently seen him in a dream in which she fell in love with him at the very moment he struck her a fatal blow. Hidraot, Queen of Damascus and Armide’s aunt enters. She congratulates Armide on her victory over the crusaders but urges her to marry. Armide confesses that, if she marries, it will only be to the person who defeats Renaud. The people of Damascus celebrate Armide’s victory. Their rejoicing is interrupted when Aronte staggers in, wounded, telling them that their prisoners have been rescued by one soldier, single-handed – Renaud. They all swear vengeance on him.
Renaud is with Artemidore, one of the knights he has rescued, who is on his way back to the camp of the crusaders. Renaud himself cannot do so because he has been banished by their leader, Godefroi. Artemidore warns him to beware of Armide, but Renaud declares his indifference to the danger she poses.
As they leave, Armide and Hidraot come in and invoke the spirits of the underworld to put a spell on Renaud. When Renaud appears, he is entranced by the beauty of the countryside. Spirits transformed into naiads, nymphs and shepherdesses lull him to sleep. Armide suddenly appears, ready to stab the unconscious Renaud. But she cannot bring herself to do so. She determines to make him love her, thereby avenging herself by seducing him from the field of battle. She calls on her spirits to take them both far away.
Armide reflects that although, by means of her magic, she has made Renaud fall in love with her, she has failed to control her own love for him. Phenice and Sidonie assure her that she has him completely in her power, but she knows she must choose between her love for Renaud and hatred and revenge on him. Left alone, Armide summons Hate to rescue her and exorcise love from her heart.
Hate and her demonic entourage appear from the underworld and begin their incantations. But this is too much for Armide and, her mind made up, she rejects Hate’s help. Hate scornfully predicts Armide’s abandonment, saying that she could not punish her more harshly than by leaving her to the powers of Love.
The Danish Knight and Ubalde, sent to Armide’s palace to find Renaud and bring him back to the war, find their way barred by Armide’s defenses. They overcome these with the help of a talismanic diamond shield and a golden scepter given them by a magician to counter Armide’s magic powers.
The desert changes into beautiful countryside and the two knights are in turn tempted by demons, which have been transformed by Armide to resemble their beloveds, Lucinde and Melisse. They dispel these visions with the golden scepter and go on their way towards Armide’s palace.
Armide is now committed to love Renaud but fears she will lose him, as Hate predicted. Armide goes to consult her powers and leaves Renaud to be entertained by her retinue until she returns. Led by Pleasure, they dance and sing for him, but Renaud cannot enjoy anything without Armide, and dismisses them. Ubalde and the Danish Knight enter and show Renaud the diamond shield. This breaks Armide’s spell and awakens him to his desertion. As he is leaving with his companions, Armide returns and expresses her horror at seeing her fears of his betrayal confirmed.
After the knights have left, Armide alternates between despair and desire for vengeance. She laments the departure of the perfidious Renaud and then regrets she did not kill him when he was in her power. Finally she orders that her palace be destoyed and she leaves to seek revenge on Renaud