- Tim Carter
Libretto subject used from the 17th century to the early 20th. Its source is Torquato Tasso ’s epic poem Gerusalemme liberata (1581). Almost 100 operas and ballets draw upon the love of the Saracen sorceress Armida for the Christian warrior Rinaldo (in French called Armide and Renaud), with such titles as Armida, Rinaldo, Armida e Rinaldo, Armida abbandonata and Armida al campo d’Egitto.
In Canto iv of Gerusalemme liberata, Armida, niece of Idraoto, King of Damascus, lures Christian warriors (commanded by Goffredo) who are laying siege to Jerusalem in the First Crusade (1099). Their imprisonment, then rescue by the noble Rinaldo (in temporary disgrace for his murder of Gernando), is narrated in Canto x, and Armida’s vengeful pursuit of Rinaldo is recounted (Canto xiv) by a wizard to Carlo, a Danish knight, and Ubaldo, who are to bring him back to the Christian camp. Armida encounters Rinaldo, is attracted to him and, torn by love and hate, takes him to an enchanted island. Rinaldo, bewitched, spends languorous days with Armida in her palace (this recalls the episode of Alcina and Ruggiero in Ariosto’s ...