University of Hartford "H" Magazine - Winter 2019

University of Hartford

When the University of Hartford was incorporated just over 50 years ago by business and community leaders, they envisioned a center of education and culture for Greater Hartford. Read more...

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Sunday Afternoon at the Opera - Haydn; Armida

10/24/2021 1:00 pm
10/24/2021 4:30 pm


Sunday Afternoon at the Opera host Keith Brown writes:

It was only last month when I aired an opera by the same name in its French form, Francoeur's Armide. In the eighteenth century there were so many operas that bore this name about the beautiful sorceress/princess, or named after the noble knight Rinaldo who loved her. Opera librettists spun off so many variants of the basic story derived from the epic poem by Tasso. I last presented Haydn's 1784 take on the story way back on Sunday, September 20, 1987. It's been more than four decades since the Philips label gave us a recorded cycle of the long neglected operas of Joseph Haydn on stereo LPs. The Hungarian conductor Antal Dorati took part in the Philips Haydn opera series, leading the Chamber Orchestra of Lausanne.

The 1979 recording featured American soprano Jessye Norman in the title role. She was a truly magnificent Armida, but mezzo Cecilia Bartoli has equalled or outdone her in a recording made live in performance in 2000 in Vienna's Musikverein hall. It benefits by the participation of the musicologist/conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the pioneering period instrument ensemble he founded, the Concentus Musicus Wien. Teldec reissued this historically-informed Armida in 2013 in its revived "Das Alte Werk" line. Writing for Fanfare magazine (March/April, 2001issue) reviewer Bernard Jacobson states unequivocally, "This is a fascinating opera, fascinatingly played, vividly recorded and stunningly sung by Bartoli et al. ...we are unlikely to be given a better recorded performance in decades."