Antonín Dvořák: Armida

24. listopad 2012

(1903)opera in four actslibretto Jaroslav Vrchlický

Characters and cast:

Hydraot, Kind of Damascus Martin Gurbal´Armida, his daughter Dana BurešováIsmen, a Syrian ruler and sorcerer Ulf PaulsenRinald, a knight Tomáš ČernýBohumír, commander of the Christian army Martin BártaPeter the Hermit David SzendiuchSven, a knight Martin ŠrejmaGernand, a knight Matěj ChadimaDudo, a knight Peter SvetlíkUbald, a knight Roman VlkovičRoger, a knight Ondřej KoplíkMuezzin, Herald Martin ŠtolbaA siren Marianna Pillárová

Chorus and orchestra of the opera of the National Moravian-Silesian Theatre of Ostrava

Recording made on 8 November 2012, Antonín Dvořák Theatre in Ostrava

Chorus master Jurij GalatenkoConductor Robert Jindra

Act 1 (39:31)Amidst the songs and dances of the king’s retinue we hear the call to prayer from a minaret. The sorcerer Ismen brings King Hydraot news of the military threat from the crusaders’ army, which with the pretext of liberating the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem intends to take control of the entire East. The superior force of this great army cannot be defeated by arms. Ismen advises Hydraot to send his daughter Armida to the foreigners’ camp and there use her beauty to muddle the minds of the leaders and sow discord among the knights. Ismen hopes that he himself can win her love and hand. Armida however has been spellbound after glimpsing one of the foreigners whom she saw during a hunt; she thus pays no attention to her father’s pleas. But when Ismen conjures up a vision of the crusaders’ camp, Armida recognises among the men her unknown idol, the knight Rinald, and joyfully sets out for the Christian encampment.

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Act 2 (45:52)In the Christian camp near Damascus the people and army are at prayer. The knights are impatiently waiting for their leader to give the order to attack. Armida comes into the camp, asking to be taken to the commander Bohumir of Bouillon. Peter the Hermit foresees her trickery and tries to drive her away, but at this point the man she loves, the knight Rinald, takes up her defence and makes it possible for her to speak to Bohumir. Armida comes before him with an invented story about her father being blinded and imprisoned and her brother killed. She begs Bohumir to send soldiers to help her. In return she promises that Damascus will surrender to them. Bohumir refuses, wishing to carry out his task and conquer Jerusalem. Rinald rises up to oppose his decision and flees with Armida. When Peter the Hermit tries to prevent the two from leaving, Ismen appears in a dragon-drawn chariot and carries the two lovers off.

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Act 3 (38:28)To the songs of the sirens Armida and Rinald indulge themselves in sweet daydreaming, with Rinald now oblivious to his military mission. Ismen, who has captured many knights after luring them into the desert, comes to urge Armida to destroy Rinald. He recognises, however, that Armida loves Rinald. She refuses to deliver him over to Ismen’s hatred and is prepared to do battle against Ismen’s magic spells. When Ismen can obtain nothing from her even by threatening to use his magic, he decides to seek revenge. He reveals to Ubald and Sven, who have lost their way in the desert, that in the dungeon of the Armida’s enchanted castle they will find the diamond shield of the Archangel Michael. Its supernatural powers will free Rinald from Armida’s embrace. The knights take possession of the shield, and Rinald comes stumbling along after it, his eyes firmly fixed on its brilliance while Armida vainly tries to prevent him from leaving.

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Act 4 (33:02)In an oasis in the desert, Rinald, wounded by the Moors, repents of his treason and promises to atone for his guilt. In this mood he is discovered by his comrades and Peter the Hermt. They assure him that his repentance has made up for his sin, and the touch of Archangel Michael’s shield cures him. Rinald sets off with the crusaders for the battle, in which he overpowers and slays Ismen. Armida cannot live without Rinald, and disguised as a black knight, she seeks out death in battle at his hand. Only too late does Rinald recognise Armida and her love. He baptises the dying maiden so that their souls may be forever joined.

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autor: ČRo Vltava
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