Opera Scotland

Armide Armida

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Christophe Willibald Gluck (born Erasbach, 2 July 1714; died Vienna, 15 November 1787)


Philippe Quinault (1686, set by Lully)


Epic poem Gerusalemme liberata, ovvero Il Goffredo (1575) by Torquato Tasso



First Performance: Paris (Opéra), 23 September 1777.

First Performance in the UK: London (Covent Garden), 6 July 1906.

First Performance in Scotland: Glasgow (Lyric Theatre), 14 April 1939.



This late work, entirely composed in France, rather than being a remodelling of an earlier Viennese work, was clearly an opera with which Gluck threw out a challenge to the traditionalists. The Italian practice of the time was to utilise repeatedly libretti prepared earlier by a small group of poets, led by Metastasio. By contrast, in France, the operas composed by Lully a century earlier to texts largely by Quinault, had been sacrosanct. For Gluck to take and recycle a text that had previously been untouched was a very brave act. The originality of much of his writing made comparisons with Lully's work impossible.


Main Characters

Armide, a sorceress (soprano)

Hidraot, King of Damascus, a magician, her father (bass)

Renaud, a crusader knight (tenor)

La Haine - Hatred (mezzo-soprano)

Ubalde, a crusader knight, Renaud's friend (baritone0

Danish Knight, a crusader (tenor)


Plot Summary

During the First Crusade, Armide is sabotaging the Christian cause, using her magic powers to seduce and capture many knights. Renaud, one of the most heroic, is immune to her charms, and she hates him for it. She succeeds in luring him away from the camp, is unable to kill him as he sleeps, but instead whisks him off to her enchanted realm. She tries her best to put her hatred of him into effect, but at last admits that she loves him. He, in turn, now loves her, but he is eventually brought to his senses by the arrival of two of his friends. The three return to their duties, leaving Armide bereft.

The Cast

 (Armida) a sorceress, niece of the King of Damascus
 one of the crusaders held captive by Armide
Danish Knight
 a crusader sent to look for Renaud
 a magician, King of Damascus, Armide's uncle
 a confidante of Armide
 (Rinaldo) a famous crusader in Godfrey's army
 a confidante of Armide
 a crusader sent to look for Renaud

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