Michael Lee, “Il vero di tante meraviglie”: Tasso’s Armida and the power of fantasy in late seventeenth-century opera (PhD, Queen’s University Belfast, 2013)

These details defined Fri Nov 19 00:28:53 2010, last updated Mon Apr 8 20:11:58 2019  edit
 Author:  Lee, Michael 
 Title:  “Il vero di tante meraviglie”: Tasso’s Armida and the power of fantasy in late seventeenth-century opera 
 Degree, institution:  PhD, Queen’s University Belfast 
 Status, year:  accepted, 2013 
 Volumes, pp., etc.:  1 (303pp.), 93807 words 
 Supervisor(s):  Professor Jan Smaczny; Dr Sarah McCleave 
 Repository:  McClay Library, Queen's University, Belfast 
 General specialism:  Musicology 
 Content, timeframe:  1580-1700 
 Content, key terms:  Concepts:
Genres, instruments: 
Adaptation; Cultural Transfer; Reception; Opera Studies
Torquato Tasso; Philippe Quinault; Jean-Baptiste Lully; John Dennis; John Eccles; Carlo Pallavicino
Venice; Paris; Dresden; London

The romance of Armida and Rinaldo, an episode in Torquato Tasso’s epic poem Gerusalemme Liberata (1581), was a popular subject for adaptations in opera from the 1680s, and formed the basis for over sixty operas in the eighteenth century. This study examines the nature and appeal of the character of the enchantress Armida, both in its original poetic context and as a figure for later adaptation on the operatic stage. Tasso’s poem, set in the First Crusade and written during the Counter-Reformation, contains overtones of cultural and religious conflict, as well as a fantasy of the re-integration of a divided community. The structure of the poem, Armida’s place in it, and the associations that underpin the character are discussed, as well as the reception of the work in the century following its publication. In the second half of the thesis, three of the first operatic treatments of this subject are discussed: Armide (1686) by Philippe Quinault and Jean-Baptiste Lully, La Gierusalemme Liberata (1687) by Giulio Cesare Corradi and Carlo Pallavicino, and Rinaldo and Armida (1698) by John Dennis and John Eccles. Each work, one French, one Italian, and one English, is found to approach the narrative and character from different perspectives, bringing to bear issues of social identity, theatrical form, cultural value and political imagery. The success of Armida as a subject for operatic adaptation is found to be due partly to the means with which the character supported a range of expressive and representational practices, extending the virtuosic power of fantasy in epic poetry onto the stage.