In 1777, the French composer Christoph Willibald Gluck 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 story is set in the Holy Land 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.
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 Haydn, early Mozart and solid French style. We’ll be performing it in French.