Armida ( by Rossini)
- Richard Osborne
Dramma in three acts by Gioachino Rossini to a libretto by Giovanni Schmidt after Torquato Tasso ’s epic poem Gerusalemme liberata; Naples Teatro S Carlo, 11 November 1817.
The Paladin Knights, led by Goffredo (tenor), are preparing to elect a successor to the deceased Dudone, but the election is interrupted by a weeping noblewoman demanding protection from Idraote who has usurped the throne of Damascus. The woman is the sorceress Armida (soprano) and the plea is a ruse. With the disguised Idraote (bass) as one of her followers, she has come to Jerusalem to enslave the knights in general and Rinaldo (tenor) in particular. The knights elect Rinaldo, to the fury of his closest rival, Gernando (tenor). Armida begins to seduce Rinaldo but is interrupted by Gernando’s insults. The two men fight a duel and Gernando is slain. Horrified by what he has done, Rinaldo flees the camp with Armida. Act 2 begins in a Fury-infested forest where Armida’s follower Astarotte (bass) rules over his demon empire. Rinaldo appears with Armida who transforms the forest into a vast Baroque palace. Love music and an extended ballet dominate the act. In Act 3 Carlo (tenor) and Ubaldo (tenor) arrive to recover Rinaldo. After a further duet with Armida, Rinaldo is shown his besotted image in the knights’ adamantine shield; this is the cue for the celebrated trio for three tenors ‘In quale aspetto imbelle’. The opera’s final scene, the lovers’ parting and Armida’s demented flight, is part realistic, part allegorical as Armida is confronted by the spirits of Vengeance and Love....