What to Expect from Armida
What do you call a combination of six tenors, one scintillating soprano, a chorus of devils, and a ballet corps of nymphs, all gathered in an enchanted forest somewhere on the outskirts of Jerusalem? “A box of jewels,” is how director Mary Zimmerman describes Rossini’s rarely heard Armida. Discovering the opera for her was “like coming across a buried treasure under the sea.” Zimmerman’s new production marks the first time Armida is being performed at the Met, as a showcase for soprano Renée Fleming, who will sing the title role. For Tony Award winner Zimmerman, who previously staged Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor and Bellini’s La Sonnambula at the Met, it will be her third bel canto opera with the company.
First seen in 1817, Armida never entered the standard operatic repertoire, in part because of the extraordinary vocal demands Rossini makes on the interpreter of the title role—a sorceress who manipulates men for personal and political motives. In addition to the technique necessary to do justice to the stunning vocal acrobatics and long melodic lines Rossini is known for, the role also requires a significant amount of emotional characterization. The success of any performance rests squarely on the shoulders of the leading lady. The opera was written for the famous soprano Isabella Colbran, later the composer’s wife. It was revived in the middle of the 20th century, when the legendary Maria Callas took on the title role in 1952. It then lay mostly dormant again until, in 1993, Fleming thrilled audiences with her impassioned, emotionally complex interpretation. Now the soprano, who starred at the Met last season as Massenet’s Thaïs and Dvořák's Rusalka, brings her portrayal to New York—and to HD screens around the world. Opposite her, tenor Lawrence Brownlee sings the role of the lovestruck Crusader Rinaldo.
A full-length activity, designed to support your ongoing curriculum.
Five "Musical Highlights" designed to focus on bits of music from Armida to cultivate familiarity with the work.
Performance Activities for students to enjoy during the Metropolitan Opera HD transmission.
A post-transmission activity, integrating the Live in HD experience into students' wider views of the performing arts and humanities.
Armida at The Met
Armida brings together Rossini’s trademark musical fireworks with a romantic story full of fantasy, nature, and enchantment. In the end, however, it’s about one man and one woman. “It is a tale of feminine seduction,” Fleming says. “And that, in fact, is Armida’s real power, with a dark or desperate side. It takes both Armida and Rinaldo captive and away from their former selves and lives. Love does that—making one want to shut out the world.”
Rossini presented Armida to the theater-goers of 19th-century Naples as an evening of spectacular stagecraft. This guide will help your students appreciate the deeper value in his creation—not only as popular entertainment, but as a work of rare beauty and astonishing vocal challenges.
The synopsis can be found here.