Information about the opera
ARMIDA DRAMMA EROICO. DA RAPPRESENTARSI NEL TEATRO DI S. A. IL SIGR PRINCIPE REGNANTE NICCOLÓ ESTHERASI DE GALANTHA. POSTO IN MUSICA DAL SIGR MAESTRO HAYDEN. L'ANNO 1784.
Opening of the season
Des Fürsten Lieblingsoper Armida erfuhr bis ins Jahr 1788 insgesamt 54 Aufführungen, bei Weitem die meiste aller im Schlosstheater aufgeführten Opern. Mit unglaublichen 21 Aufführungen im Premierenjahr 1784 stellt sie hier nicht nur den Esterház'schen "Hausrekord pro Jahr" auf, sondern war mit Sicherheit auch, auf Grund des einschlagenden Erfolges, "kompositorisches" Vorbild für die zu rekonstruierende La vera costanza von 1785.
Armida - Dramma eroico
Editor: Wilhelm Pfannkuch; Reihe XXV, Band 12;
1965, G. Henle Verlag München
|flute||Zacharias Hirsch, N.N.|
|oboe||Anton Mayer, Joseph Czerwenka|
|basoon||Joseph Steiner, Franz Czerwenka|
|horn||Natale Chiesa, Johann Hörmann|
|violin/viola||Luigi Tomasini (cm), Nicolò Mestrino, Johann Tost, Joseph Purcksteiner, Joseph Hofmann, Antonio Polzelli, Joseph Dietzl, Franz Pauer, Joseph Oliva, Christian Specht (probably viola), Vito Ungricht (probably viola)|
|violoncello||Anton Kraft, Valentin Bertoja|
|double bass||Johann Dietzl, Carl Schiringer|
Haydn uses the libretto of the opera ‘Rinaldo’ set to music by Antonio Tozzi (Venice 1775). The final scene, on the other hand, is based on the libretto to ‘Armida’, a dramma per musica by Johann Gottlieb Naumann (Padua 1773). Both libretti are collections penned by anonymous editors, but they ultimately refer to the libretti of Iacopo Duranti – the libretto for Pasquale Anfossi’s opera of the same name of 1779 (Turin) and that of Francesco Saverio de Rogati (the libretto for Niccolò Jommeli’s opera ‘Armida abbandonata’ of 1779 (Naples)).26
This popular material, which was often set to music, goes back to the epic ‘La Gerusalemme liberata ovvero Il Goffredo’ by Torquato Tasso.
A list of other musical versions shows how popular this opera subject was:
- 1686 Jean Baptiste Lully: Armide
- 1710 Georg Friedrich Händel: Rinaldo
- 1751 Carl Heinrich Graun: Armida
- 1761 Tommaso Traetta: Armida
- 1770 Niccolò Jommelli: Armida abbandonata
- 1771 Antonio Salieri: Armida
- 1772 Antonio Sacchini: Armida
- 1773 Johann Gottlieb Naumann: Armida
- 1777 Christoph Willibald Gluck: Armide
- 1777 Domenico Cimarosa: L'Armida Immaginaria
- 1779 Joseph Myslivecek: Armida
- 1803 Vincenzo Righini: La Gerusalemme liberata
- 1817 Gioacchino Rossini: Armida
- 1904 Antonín Dvořák: Armida
Essendo Rinaldo trattenuto negl'incanti d'Armida, ed essendo al medesimo riservato dal destino il poter liberare il bosco, che da Ismeno fu dato in custodia agli spiriti infernali, acciò i franchi non potessero servirsi de' legni necessari alla costruzione delle macchine per l'espugnazione di Gerosolima; spedi Goffredo in traccia dello stesso Rinaldo, Ubaldo, ed il Cavalier Danese (che qui chiameremo Clotarco) acciò lo ritornassero al campo. Istruiti i due messaggieri dall'eremita Pietro, si condussero a ricercarlo nella reggia d'Armida, ed ivi Ubaldo collo scudo incantato fattolo ritornare in se stesso, lo indusse a fuggirsene dall'amante, ed a ritornarsene appresso Goffredo. La favola è notissima; e se nel presente dramma sonosi cambiate alcune circostanze, questo fu solamente per addattarsi ad alcune necessità teatrali per le quali non che la favola, ma la storia medesima viene talvolta da' compositori alterata.
La scena si finge in un castello d'Armida, e nelle sue vicinanze.
Sala nella reggia di Damasco per l' adunanze del consiglio. Trono, sedili per li satrapi del regno.
Scoscesa montagna, sulle cime della quale scopresi il castello d'Armida.
Giardino nel palazzo d'Armida.
Parte di bosco in vicinanza della selva incantata.
Orrido bosco per tutta la scena, in mezzo a cui vedesi un foltissimo arbore di mirto.
Vasta campagna poco distante dalla città di Damasco.
La scena si finge in Damasco.
|2.||Recitativo Idreno, Armida, Rinaldo Amici, il fiero Marte|
|3.||Aria Rinaldo Vado a pugnar contento|
|4.||Recitativo Idreno, Armida Armida, ebben, che pensi?|
|5.||Aria Idreno Se dal suo braccio opresso|
|6a.||Recitativo accompagnato Armida Partì Rinaldo|
|6b.||Aria Armida Se pietade avete, oh Numi|
|8a.||Recitativo accompagnato Ubaldo Valorosi compagni|
|8b.||Aria Ubaldo Dove son? Che miro intorno?|
|8c.||Recitativo accompagnato Ubaldo Qual turbamento ignoto|
|8d.||Recitativo Clotarco, Ubaldo Signor, ingombro è il monte|
|9.||Recitativo Zelmira, Clotarco Ah, si scenda per poco|
|10.||Aria Zelmira Se tu seguir mi vuoi|
|11.||Recitativo Idreno, Armida Dunque fur vane|
|Recitativo Armida, Rinaldo Quanto del suo maggiore|
|Recitativo Rinaldo, Ubaldo E perché vuole Armida|
Recitativo accompagnato Rinaldo, Armida
Oh amico! Oh mio rossor!
|12b.||Duetto Rinaldo, Armida Cara, sarò fedele|
|13.||Recitativo Idreno, Zelmira Odi, e serba il segreto|
|14.||Aria Zelmira Tu mi sprezzi|
|15.||Recitativo Idreno, Clotarco No, non mi pento|
|16.||Aria Clotarco Ah, si plachi il fiero Nume|
|17.||Recitativo Idreno, Ubaldo Va pur, folle|
|18.||Aria Idreno Teco la guida al campo|
|19.||Recitativo Ubaldo, Rinaldo, Armida Ben simulati|
|Recitativo Rinaldo, Armida Amiche sponde, addio!|
|20a.||Recitativo accompagnato Rinaldo, Ubaldo ... Oh affanno!|
|Recitativo accompagnato Ubaldo, Rinaldo Ah Rinaldo|
|Recitativo accompagnato Rinaldo Lascarla, oh Dio!|
|20b.||Aria Rinaldo Cara, è vero, io son tiranno|
|20c.||Recitativo accompagnato Armida Barbaro! E ardisci ancor|
|20d.||Aria Armida Odio, furor, dispetto|
|21.||Recitativo Ubaldo, Rinaldo Eccoti alfin|
|22.||Aria Ubaldo Prence amato|
|23.||Recitativo Rinaldo, Armida, Ubaldo Ansioso già mi vedi|
|Recitativo Ubaldo, Armida, Rinaldo Che veggo! Armida qui!|
|24.||Terzetto Armida, Rinaldo, Ubaldo Partirò, ma pensa, ingrato|
|25.||Recitativo Rinaldo, Ubaldo Al Ciel pietoso|
|26a.||Recitativo accompagnato Rinaldo Questa dunque è la selva|
|26b.||Aria Zelmira Torna pure al caro bene|
|26c.||Recitativo accompagnato Rinaldo Qual tumulto d'idee|
|26d.||Aria Armida Ah, non ferir|
|26e.||Recitativo accompagnato Rinaldo, Armida Che inopportuno incontro!|
|26f.||Aria Rinaldo Dei pietosi|
|26g.||Recitativo accompagnato Rinaldo Ed io m’arresto?|
Recitativo Rinaldo, Ubaldo, Armida, Idreno, Zelmira
Fermate. Utile sia breve dimora
Finale Armida, Zelmira, Idreno, Rinaldo, Ubaldo
Astri che in ciel splendete
“This touching spectacle is a fragment of the story of the liberation of Jerusalem. All of Europe was involved in this war. Each country dedicated its best warriors to it, and Gottfried was their general. The action of the play takes place in a region of forests, which Ismeno has guarded with subterranean spirits so that the Christians cannot cut down the wood that they need to arm themselves against the defenders of Jerusalem. Rinaldo is destined to liberate this forest but is held back by the magic of Armida. Gottfried sends the knights Ubaldo and Clotarco to Rinaldo to call him back to the field. These two envoys are informed by the hermit Pietro of Rinaldo’s whereabouts and seek him out at Armida’s royal palace. Here, Ubaldo brings him back with his magic shield and admonishes him to flee from his beloved and to return to Gottfried. The story is well known, and if a few circumstances have been changed here and there, it has been done to embellish the necessary theatrical performances.”
The Christian crusaders have invaded the territory of the Saracen king Idreno. With the help of his niece Armida, he looks for ways of averting the knights’ attack on Damascus and the royal palace. In the throne room of Idreno, the crusader Rinaldo, who has fallen under the spell of Armida and who is staying at the court of Idreno, offers himself voluntarily as a general against his fellow believers.
After Rinaldo’s departure, Idreno is so pleased with this offer that he makes two promises to Armida that if he actually wins, he will marry her to Rinaldo and also make Rinaldo heir to his kingdom. Alone, Armida, believing her heart to be divided between duty and love, pleads with the gods to allow her beloved Rinaldo to return unharmed from the battle.
A company of soldiers, led by Ubaldo and Clotarco, are on separate paths to Armida’s castle to free Rinaldo from her power. Clotarco encounters Zelmira, a daughter of the Sultan of Egypt, who has been persuaded by Armida and Idreno to hurry towards the Christian force, beguile the leaders with her charms, and then kill them. When she faces Clotarco, it’s all over for her: love inflames her heart and Cupid’s arrow also hits the captain, and they both forget their assignments and Clotarco willingly follows Zelmira to the castle.
Meanwhile, Idreno learns from Armida that the fighting has not brought about the desired success. Both know about Ubaldo and the other intruders, but Armida advises Idreno to give them a friendly welcome in order to gain time.
After that, Armida encounters Rinaldo alone and confesses to him that she is afraid of the forthcoming battle. Above all, she fears that his own people will recognise him as an enemy and kill him. Armida therefore asks Rinaldo to avoid the Christians. While Rinaldo contemplates Armida’s wish alone, Ubaldo appears and accuses his comrade in arms of betrayal. Rinaldo, surprised at first, quickly develops feelings of guilt. Ubaldo leaves the scene hoping to have turned Ronaldo. Tormented by insecurity, Rinaldo wants to flee, but Armida stops him at the last moment and appeals to his conscience, accusing him of infidelity and treason.
Again, he hesitates, which increases Armida’s hopes of a future together. A duet that concludes the first act clearly shows their contrasting states of mind: he swears allegiance to Armida, while she initially oscillates between helplessness and disbelief, before she finally believes his oaths and accepts his vows.
King Idreno explains to Zelmira his plan to ambush and destroy the crusaders led by Ubaldo. Zelmira is shocked and accuses the king of behaving in a manner unworthy of a ruler. Of course, her thoughts are with her lover Clotarco, whom she already sees among the dead in the expected carnage. Idreno persists in his decision and Zelmira sadly walks away.
At that moment, Clotarco appears but Zelmira misses the captain’s offer to Idreno to enter into negotiations to end all acts of war. Idreno allows him to fetch Ubaldo. As soon as he has gone, Idreno scoffs at him, as his decision to take the path of treachery is an irrevocable one.
Ubaldo approaches the king and doesn’t linger long with polite phrases but ruthlessly accuses Idreno of black magic and demands the release of all prisoners. Ubaldo eventually secures Rinaldo’s release, whereas Idreno indicated that Rinaldo could leave at any time anyway. With this statement he leaves Ubaldo and walks away.
However, Ubaldo doesn’t believe a word Idreno has said and sets out to look for Rinaldo. At this very moment, Rinaldo comes into the garden and Ubaldo immediately asks him to return to the Christian army’s camp. He reminds Rinaldo of the oath to put his sword in the service of ‘the glorious cause’. As if waking from a dream, Rinaldo agrees with his comrade in arms. However, as soon as Ubaldo has left, Armida appears and heaps accusations of infidelity on her lover. Rinaldo begins to vacillate again. She then brings up the possibility of suicide and faints. The knight is confused, admitting that as a warrior he can use a sword but that cannot see through Armida. Should he stay or leave?
Ubaldo returns and, faced with Rinaldo’s inconstancy, reacts with perplexity. He believes that the knight is finally lost and wants to leave with a last ‘farewell’, but Rinaldo holds him tight. In the conflict of his feelings, honour gains the upper hand, and Rinaldo symbolically tears some garlands, which Armida finds a few moments later. What follows makes the fury of the paladin Orlando look harmless: Odio furor dispetto! Because of this betrayal, Armida lets her anger run wild.
Rinaldo returns to his fellow soldiers and is gladly received by Ubaldo. When the trumpets suddenly announce it is time to set off, Rinaldo wants to throw himself into battle immediately. Surprisingly, however, Armida has reached Rinaldo. She throws herself at his feet and tries to get him to change his mind with her feelings.
Ubaldo sees this and openly asks Armida not to deprive Rinaldo of his knighthood. She now expresses her wish to stay with Rinaldo – but Rinaldo himself advises her to leave.
In a final trio, Rinaldo tries to explain his ambivalent feelings to Armida, but is interrupted by Ubaldo, who urges Armida to endure her fate. Desperation and resignation on the one hand and the heartless handling of the feelings of love on the other reach their climax here.
Rinaldo and Ubaldo approach the enchanted forest with soldiers. To Ubaldo’s delight, Rinaldo has now completely renounced his love for Armida. Ubaldo reminds Rinaldo of his task and warns him not to let anything in the forest deter him. Having advanced into the enchanted forest, Rinaldo finds none of the things that Ubaldo has previously warned him about. Quite the opposite, peace spreads and the murmur of a brook completely lulls him. When he finds a myrtle tree to be felled and starts to use his axe, he is for the moment stopped by lovely music. Then, however, nymphs appear, among them Zelmira, who asks him to return to Armida. Again, Rinaldo falls into a conflict of feelings, but finally tears himself away from the nymphs and starts to cut down the myrtle tree. The tree suddenly splits and Armida emerges from it, pale, with dishevelled hair and in a black robe. Contrary to what one would expect of Armida now, she acts in a vulnerable manner, begs for pity and dramatically urges him to pierce her heart. However, when she tries to take his hand, Rinaldo pushes her back, which then causes Armida to burst out in anger. With a flick of her wand, total darkness falls and she is gone. The knight reacts with unusual fear. As he approaches the myrtle tree, furies try to stop him. Gathering all his courage, he draws his sword and cuts down the myrtle – the forest and the furies disappear. They all meet again in the camp of the Franks. Rinaldo praises himself for having conquered himself, while Armida swears revenge for his infidelity. With a wave of the hand, a chariot from hell appears, which is supposed to take Armida away. The finale begins with Armida, Zelmira and Idreno calling for justice to deny Rinaldo victory. Armida lets Rinaldo know that her heart will celebrate his death, which Rinaldo cannot understand, because – he calls out to her – if she could see his heart, she would feel sorry for him. When he says goodbye, he calls her ‘my life’, but she insults him as a ‘monster of cruelty’. The final song of all the actors sums up that fate is always unfair when two loving hearts are separated.27