Gluck's Armide from Netherlands Opera
Presented by Ian Skelly.
In his anniversary year, Afternoon on 3 presents a rare performance of an opera which set Parisian artistic circles alight when it was first heard in 1777. After his recent triumphs in Iphigénie en Aulide, Orphée and Alceste, Gluck now felt ready for an all-out assault on the French operatic tradition of Lully. By choosing to use precisely the same libretto by Philippe Quinault that Lully had set nearly a century earlier he risked all as he threw his hat into the ring with Diderot and Jean Jacques Rousseau and forged a new, revitalized French style. Gluck's setting of Quinault's libretto, itself based on Torquato Tasso's Gerusalemme liberata (Jerusalem Delivered), quickly supplanted Lully's opéra lyrique and remained in the Parisian operatic repertory through Revolution and war until the time of Rossini.
The opera is set in Damascus at the time of the First Crusade. Armide ensnares her enemy the Christian knight Renaud with her magic spells. But, when she raises her dagger to kill him, Armide finds herself falling in love with Renaud. She casts a spell to make him love her in return. Renaud's love is, of course a mere illusion, something that Armide cannot bear, so she calls on the Goddess of Hate to make her hate Renaud. again. But the Goddess condemns Armide to eternal love. Two of his fellow soldiers reach Renaud and break Armide's spell and Renaud makes his escape. In a monologue much admired by Berlioz, Armide abandons all hope as she sings of her rage and of her despair.
Gluck: Armide, opera in five acts
Armide, a sorceress, Princess of Damascus ..... Karina Gauvin (soprano)
Renaud, a Crusader ..... Frédéric Antoun (tenor)
Phénice, Armide's confidant ..... Karin Strobos (soprano)
Sidonie, Armide's confidant ..... Ana Quintans (soprano)
Hidraot, a magician, King of Damascus ..... Andrew Foster-Williams (baritone)
Hate ..... Diana Montague (contralto)
The Danish Knight, a Crusader ..... Sébastien Droy (tenor)
Ubalde, a Crusader .....Henk Neven (baritone)
A demon in the form of Lucinde ..... Ana Quintans (soprano)
A demon in the form of Mélisse ..... Julia Westendorp (soprano)
Aronte, in charge of Armide's prisoners ..... Henk Neven (baritone)
Artémidore, a Crusader ..... Sébastien Droy (tenor),
A Naiad ..... Julia Westendorp (soprano),
A Shepherdess ..... Ana Quintans (soprano)
A Pleasure ..... Francesca Russo Ermolli (soprano)
Coryphées ..... Ana Quintans (soprano), Karin Strobos (soprano), Sébastien Droy (tenor)
Chorus of Netherlands Opera,
Netherlands Chamber Orchestra
Ivor Bolton (conductor)
Performance recorded at De Nederlandse Opera, Amsterdam
followed at 4.10pm by:
Falla: The Three-Cornered hat, Suite No.2
European Union Youth Orchestra, Vladimir Ashkenazy (conductor).