'Armida' last MET opera to be simulcast

pac.mercyhurst.edu photopac.mercyhurst.edu photoThe last MET opera set to be simulcast for this school year is “Armida,” a tale of magic and enchantment. The stage is set during the time of the Crusades, and the sorceress Armida plans to weaken the Christian forces by enslaving some of their best soldiers.

She pretends that she is a noblewoman in need of protection, and the soldiers, entranced by her beauty, convince their leader to lend her aid. They choose to give her their best soldier, Rinaldo. She takes him away and transforms the forest into a glorious island palace where she holds him under her spell.

They spend a couple of blissful days together until two of Rinaldo’s fellow knights, aided by a magical golden staff, come to rescue him.

After managing to avoid being seduced by the nymphs in Armdia’s beautiful garden, they show Rinaldo his reflection in their shields, and when he sees with disdain that he no longer resembles the great soldier he once was, the spell is broken.

They manage to get Rinaldo away from the beautiful palace, but Armida is enraged and calls upon the power of hell to bring her lover back. She catches them before they reach their boat, and she begs Rinaldo not to desert her, but he is dragged away by his friends, thus leaving her alone.

During the final scene, Armida is trying to decide between love and revenge, and the opera ends when she decides to pursue revenge. She burns down the palace and flies off in a rage.

This opera is performed in three acts. It is the first time that the MET has attempted to do this opera, because the show is very demanding. Armida, who will be sung by Renée Fleming, can only be performed by the strongest of sopranos who also has great vocal agility and range.

Also, the majority of the men in this piece have to be true tenors, which are somewhat rare. Other challenges of this opera include the difficulty of the music, the set, the staging and the insertion of a ballet into the show’s second act.

Tony Award-winner Mary Zimmerman directed this production and she has said that this opera is “a buried treasure…a box of jewels,” and that it has “an epic, enchanted quality and a tremendous visual element.”

Tickets for the show are $15 for Mercyhurst students with an ID and $18 for adults, and it will be simulcast at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 8, in the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center. Please join us for this incredibly exciting and special event!