Metropolitan Opera HD simulcast. Showcase Cinemas, West Springfield, MA. With Renée Fleming in the title role
A stellar production of this opera, very seldom performed since its debut in 1817. The Metropolitan Opera revival is a splendid success. The singing is absolutely breathtaking, especially because it involves no fewer than six tenors. This is not comic opera, but rather opera seria. The title character, Armida, is powerful and beautiful and most unfortunate in her love for the hero. They have a marvelous time in a fantasy palace of her own creation, but time catches up with them and the struggle between love and the desire for revenge turns out to be the doom factor. Armida chooses revenge, destroying the pleasure palace and departing in a rage. Rossini had an amazing talent for suiting the music to the singer and the circumstances. He could add more notes per measure than any other composer I can think of, and his talent extended to making the role of the coloratura soprano supremely difficult. He must have known that Renée Fleming would come along and prove herself equal to the task, just as the sopranos of his own time surely did.
This was the last opera in the HD broadcast series and was a fitting closer to what has been an astonishingly fine series. And it has apparently proved so successful to the Metropolitan Opera that they are planning an expanded series for the 2010-2011 season. Wagner and Mozart and all the rest for twenty dollars a go. How can you beat that?