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date: 23 October 2019

Armide(i)locked

  • Lois Rosow

Extract

Tragédie en musique in a prologue and five acts by Jean-Baptiste Lully ( see Lully family (opera) §(1) ) to a libretto by Quinault, Philippe after Torquato Tasso ’s epic poem Gerusalemme liberata; Paris, Opéra, 15 February 1686.

The last tragedy by Lully and Quinault was regarded during the 18th century as their masterpiece. It is their only opera to concentrate on the sustained psychological development of an individual character. According to Le Cerf de la Viéville, it was known as ‘the ladies’ opera’, presumably a reference to Armide’s internal conflict.

Louis XIV chose the subject, but because of illnesses and scheduling clashes, the initial production had no court première (although unstaged chamber performances were sponsored by the dauphine). Apart from Le Rochois (Armide) and Dumesnil (Renaud), the principal singers at the Paris première are uncertain; they probably included either Dun or Beaumavielle (Hidraot), Moreau (Sidonie), Desmatins (Phénice) and Frere (Hatred). ...

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