The Story of Armide

Music of Yesterday

Grand Heroic Opera in five acts by Christoph Willibald Gluck
Text by Quinalt

The libretto is founded on an episode of Tasso’s “Jerusalem Delivered”. The scene is laid in Damascus, wehre during the crusade of the year 1099, the crusaders have arrived at the palace and gardens of Armide, the Queen and enchantress. Rinaldo, the one who not olny does not stoop to adore the beautiful Armide, but on the contrary pursues and hates here. 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 Armide’s enchanting presence, he scorns the warning, saying that love for a woman is to him a thing unknown. In reality, however, Armide is already ensnaring him with her sorcery. He presently hears exquiaitely sweet and dreamy melodies, and , finding himself in a soft, green valley, he lies down and falls asleep.

Armide’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 Armide’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 on honor, resolves to return to the army with his companions. In vain Armide 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 palace and gardens into a desert.

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