René Jacobs 1280x680 © Josep Molina


Powerful enchantments and the struggle between love and duty: The crusader Rinaldo is the only man who can cut down the magical myrtle tree which is necessary for the deliverance of Jerusalem. However, he falls under the spell of the enchantress Armida who lures him onto her side, the opposing side. Two knights, Ubaldo and Clotarco, are sent to free Rinaldo. In the end Rinaldo succeeds in escaping from Armida and cutting down the myrtle tree. Haydn set this episode from Torquato Tasso’s epic poem La Gerusalemme liberata to music in 1783 — it was his last and most successful opera which was due in part to the opulence of the sets and costumes of its first performance at the Eszterháza court theatre in 1784. Reports suggest that the production costs were enormous. Haydn wrote a particularly colourful score for his dramma eroico, with the two main characters, Armida and Rinaldo, given particularly great prominence. However, he also used the numerous special musical effects that the libretto, with its sorcery, military elements and animals, requires.