Armida abbandonata (‘Armida Abandoned’)
- Marita P. McClymonds
Opera seria in three acts by Niccolò Jommelli to a libretto by Francesco Saverio De Rogatis after Torquato Tasso ’s Gerusalemme liberata; Naples, Teatro di S Carlo, 30 May 1770.
Armida abbandonata was the first opera Jommelli wrote for Naples after having spent 17 years in the service of the Duke of Württemberg. It is unusually rich in spectacular elements, especially the depiction of rage at the end of Act 2, when Armida (soprano) calls down thunder and lightning to destroy her palace and then leaves in a chariot drawn by winged dragons. Such theatrical effects were rare in Naples but more common in Jommelli’s operas for the new theatre at Ludwigsburg, which had been designed to accommodate spectacle in the French style. Ballet and choruses were also introduced, and in Act 1 Tancredi (tenor) converses with silent dancers. The programmatic recitative in Act 3, describing the progress of Rinaldo (soprano castrato) through Armida’s enchanted forest, originated in this opera; it was set by half a dozen other composers before it was later incorporated into Haydn’s ...