Armida





In five acts by GLUCK.



Text by PHIL. QUINAULT.





The poet Quinault wrote the libretto of this opera for another

composer, Lully, but almost one hundred years later, Gluck, recognizing

the genuine richness of this French production, availed himself of it

for an opera, the music of which is so sublime, that it will for ever

be considered classic.



The libretto is founded on an episode of Tasso's "Gerusalemme liberata".



The scene is laid in Damascus, where during the Crusade of the year

1099, the Crusaders have arrived at the place and gardens of Armida,

the Queen and enchantress. Rinaldo, the greatest hero in Godfrey of

Bouillon's army, is the only one, who not only does not stop

to adore the beautiful Armida, but on the

contrary pursues and hates her. He has been banished from

Bouillon's presence charged with the rash deed of another knight, who

has not dared to confess his guilt and he now wanders lonely in the

forest.



Warned by a fellow-warrior, Artemidor, to avoid Armida's enchanting

presence he scorns the warning, saying that love for a woman is to him

a thing unknown. In reality however Armida is already ensnaring him

with her sorcery, he presently hears exquisitely sweet and dreamy

melodies and finding himself in a soft, green valley, he lies down and

falls asleep.



Armida's opportunity has come and she means to stab him, but love

conquers hatred and the dagger sinks from her hand. She vainly invokes

the furies of hate; none can change her passion for the hero and at

last, ceasing to strive against her tender feelings, she surrenders

herself entirely to him and even succeeds by her charms and her

devotion in enthralling him. Meanwhile Bouillon has sent two of his

knights, Ubalt and a Danish warrior, to recall Rinaldo to his duty.

They are detained by Armida's witchery; the Danish knight meets a

demon, who has taken his bride's face and tenderly calls him to her,

but Ubalt destroys the charm and both succeed in approaching Rinaldo,

who, his love-dream dissipated by the call of honor, resolves to return

to the army with his companions. In vain Armida tries to change his

resolution. In despair she curses him and her love, but being unable

to kill the man she loves, she suffers him to go away and turns her

beautiful place and gardens into a desert.





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