1280x680_Oper_Konzertant_1516 © beyond/Mara Burmester

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The opera Armide represents the last collaboration between Jean-Baptiste Lully and the librettist Philippe Quinault and is at the same time considered one of their most successful. Quinault took material from Torquato Tasso’s epic poem La Gerusalemme liberata as his subject matter: Armide, the niece of King Hidraot of Damascus, has magical powers which she uses to great effect in the battle against the enemy army of crusaders. Against her will she falls in love with the Christian knight Renaud. She initially succeeds in ensnaring him, but his friends manage to free him from her spell. Humiliated and despairing, Armide destroys her own palace and hurtles off through the air in a chariot.