Lully : Armide
Lully’s Armide holds a particular place among remarkable works in the history of opera. First it is Lully and Quinault’s last lyric tragedy. Undoubtedly Quinault’s best drama and the high point in Lully’s project of tragedy in music; he died the year after its creation.
The fantastic character of the magician Armide, unfaithful yet so beautiful, inspired the two artists with some of the strongest pages in Versailles operas. Ten years after Atys, Armide comes to Versailles as the other masterpiece by Lully and Quinault. It also stands as a prominent model to this day: Gluck created a new version a century later (and what a masterpiece!), followed by Rossini, Handel might have known it when he composed Rinaldo…
The 17th century masterpiece Armide illustrates the clash between Christian and Muslim worlds, through the story of the invincible knight Renaud and the Muslim warrior-princess Armide. Obsession, jealousy and magic are the pillars of this tragic love story. Armide is a psychological drama. Despite her virginity, men are intensely fascinated by Armide, and lose all aggressiveness, while experiencing irresistible sensual desire. Armide herself is protected because she has never known desire. Renaud finds in his own virginity a will of iron, which immunes him to Armide’s charms. The adventures of love and war between knight Renaud and the unfaithful Armide have the strength of inspiration of great myths. The magnificent Sleep of Renaud, Armide’s magical invocations, their passionate duets, the collapse of the magician’s palace when she is defeated and rendered mad to see her love scorned: so many unforgettable scenes magnified by Lully’s music.
But like all Lully’s great works, Armide is rarely performed, only twice in Paris in the last two decades. The revival of Marshall Pynkovski’s production, created for Opera Atelier Toronto is an opportunity not to be missed. Lully’s magnificent Perseus, staged by Opéra Atelier in 2004 and conducted by Hervé Niquet, with rich baroque sets, also left a strong impression. With sumptuous costumes and choreography to support the musical drama, this Armide coming all the way from Canada was already shown at the Opéra Royal in May 2012 with the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, and will be performed by soloists from both sides of the Atlantic, accompanied by the singers of Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles: Armide’s enchantments are back in Versailles!
Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687)
Tragedy in music in 5 acts. Libretto by Philippe Quinault after Jerusalem delivered by Torquato Tasso.
Production : Opera Atelier Toronto