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Véronique Gens – “Enfin, il est en ma puissance” – “Armide” – Ch. W. Gluck

by Luca

Véronique Gens – “Enfin, il est en ma puissance” – “Armide” – Ch. W. Gluck.

“Armide” is an enigma in the works of Christoph Willibald von Gluck (1714-1787). Of all his operatic successes, Gluck singled out “Armide” as the culmination of his career, stating in a 1776 letter to his French librettist François-Louis Gand LeBland Du Roullet:
“I have used all the little power that remains to me to complete Armide, and in doing so I have tried to be more painter and poet than musician…I confess I should like to end my career with this opera.” Gluck also conceived of “Armide” as the culmination of his operatic reform. His desire to be both poet and painter was an indication of the import given to text and scenic effects in the opera, as well as his perceived role in creating the entire operatic experience. “Armide” was a successful and controversial opera. Even before its 1777 premiere in Paris, the opera sparked a pamphlet war that rivalled the “Querelle
des bouffons” of the mid-century, in which Gluck’s supporters and detractors exchanged heated polemics over the merits of the opera and Gluck’s Italianate musical style. “Armide” was similarly a popular opera at the turn of the twentieth century due to the connections drawn between Gluck’s operatic reform and the music dramas of Richard Wagner.

(“Gluck’s ‘Armide’ and the Creation of Supranational Opera” by Annalise Smith – Bachelor of Music History, University of Calgary, 2008.)

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