University of Hartford "H" Magazine - Winter 2019

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Sunday Afternoon at the Opera - Lully: Armide

02/11/2018 1:00 pm
02/11/2018 4:30 pm


Sunday Afternoon at the Opera host Keith Brown writes:

This tragédie en musique, first staged in 1685, was the last and most magnificent product of the collaboration between the Italian immigrant composer, Jean Baptiste Lully, and the playwright, Philippe Quinault. Their presentations at the royal court of Louis XIV "The Sun King" at Versailles established the model for baroque music drama in French language.

The Lullian model would last for a century, reaching its ultimate development in the operas of Rameau. Armide is a tragédie lyrique in five acts in the form prescribed in the spoken-word dramas of Corneille. Armide has been recorded several times in the course of the general revival of interest in baroque music in the later twentieth century.

On Sunday, March 25, 1990 I presented Armide in an incomplete recording of the work, one that omits the fourth act, released in 1984 through the French Erato label. The Belgian early music specialist Philippe Herreweghe directed the Ensemble Vocal et Instrumental de la Chappelle Royale. Listen today for the complete five-act Armide as recorded in Paris in 2015 and released on a pair of silver discs through the latterday French label Aparte. Christophe Rousset leads the period instrument players of Les Talens Lyriques and the chamber chorus of Namur, the Belgian city, along with an international cast of vocal soloists.