Rossini's Armida

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Saturday, March 05, 2011

Renée Fleming returns in the title role of Armida, Rossini’s opera about a conflicted sorceress in a production directed by Mary Zimmerman. The production premiered at the Met last season and was mounted especially for the star soprano.

The production premiered at the Met last season and was mounted especially for Fleming. It's not the first time the commanding soprano has received her own production. The Met has previously mounted house premiere productions of three operas — Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah, Bellini’s Pirata and Handel’s Rodelinda — specifically for Fleming.

Fleming has performed the coloratura role of Armida throughout her career, and many critics take her performance through the role's complex trills and ornamental roulades as a measure of the star soprano's evolution through her career. Fleming is heard opposite bel canto tenor Lawrence Brownlee as Rinaldo, the object of Armida’s love and revenge. Brownlee is the lead among the six tenors featured in the opera.

Rossini's Armida had its world premiere in 1817 at the Teatro di San Carlo, Naples.

Cast and Credits:

Conductor: Riccardo Frizza

Armida: Renée Fleming

Rinaldo: Lawrence Brownlee

Goffredo: John Osborn

Gernando: Antonino Siragusa

Carlo: Barry Banks

Ubaldo: Kobie van Rensburg

Production: Mary Zimmerman

Comments [14]

Anarcissie from Queens, NY

I'm somewhat surprised at the negativity of most of the comments here. I looked up this page precisely because I heard the opera by chance on my ratty car radio and wondered what it was (having never heard it before) and who wrote it -- I suspected Rossini but I wasn't sure -- and finally because I loved the soprano and was impressed not only with her art but her technical skill -- I don't think those baroquey ornaments can be very easy to sing at all, much less float around the way Fleming does. Since I was in the midst of a complex chore, I didn't hear everything, and my radio and car as I say are sort of ratty -- we endure but are not pretty -- and of course my knowledge of opera is obviously pretty spotty, too, so evidently I missed my chance to be properly displeased with everything. Oh, well, you can't win them all.

Mar. 06 2011 11:17 AM
Herb from NYC

I think was one of the greatest geniuses and creator of operas. This isnt one of his greatest by far. I am disappointed by the Met's production of the opera. Ms. Fleming should have retired this role from her repertoire years ago. (Somehow her singing has bothered me for the past few years.)
The opera would be much more exciting if it had a soprano who could do justice to the role. I understand Ms. Fleming leaves out a lot of the challenging music that Armida was given to sing.

Mar. 05 2011 04:19 PM
concetta nardone from Elmont, NY

Ok Mr. Levin, the chorus that just presented itself was quite nice as was the violin solo and the duet which is now being sung. But there was more than two hours of uninspired music.

Mar. 05 2011 04:06 PM
concetta nardone from Elmont, NY

Mr. Levin, I am 74 years old and listening to opera and getting the scores from the library beginning when I was 13 years old. The audience is enjoying this because it might very well work as theatre and Ms.Fleming does very well on stage. But when you listen to this opera without the visual effects, it does not work. Too much coloratura singing and after awhile, it all sounds alike.

Mar. 05 2011 03:55 PM
concetta nardone from Elmont, NY

My dear Robert,
Found some very fresh broccoli at the market. Quick boil, drain and then cooked some garlic, very thin slices of lemon, and returned the broccoli to the pan and let it steam, covered for a few minutes. Also some nice peasant cheese to go with this. Simple, mediterranean fare. Thanks for asking. I really like Ms. Fleming but this opera is not worthy of her great talent. Most of the time, I like Rossini but not this one. As for Ms. Fleming, my son thinks she is a "babe". Best wishes.

Mar. 05 2011 03:11 PM
imran kissoon from Bedford TX

The dramatic elements that this opera offers to a singer is a treat. I understand that for the regular opera goer, this work is very under-appreciated. Take time to listen, and appreciate the dialogue between each character. Renee is very brave and technically efficient in the role. Keep listening and perhaps the final scene will blow your mind. If still you are not impressed, i suggest you sing it.

Mar. 05 2011 03:08 PM
Mike from NYC

Brownlee is AWESOME- as always! Pleasure to listen to. :) Osborne sounded horrible and I thought an understudy jumped in.... what happened?!?! I'm not a fan of van Rensburg's anemic and struggling singing, but am looking forward to hearing more of Brownlee and unjustly overlooked Banks. Fleming- retire this role already, please.

Mar. 05 2011 02:43 PM
Robert from NYC

Wow, I tuned in a little late and really thought someone must be filling in for Renee Fleming. I can't believe it is she I was hearing. I'm sorry to say, she sounds awful, something I never thought was possible.

And I won't be sorry if I never hear this music again. It's a concentrate of all the cloying and annoying elements of Rossini.

I'm now more interested in what Concetta's got cooking in her kitchen over in Elmont. I just hope it's not too salty. What's for dinner, Ms. Nardone?

Mar. 05 2011 02:37 PM
concetta nardone from Elmont, NY

After more than one hour of this opera, I only seem to be hearing vocalizing and galloping music.I think the tenor is very good but feel sorry for all the coloratura singing he is having to do.I never heard this opera before and was hoping for a newfound treasure. This opera really sounds like it was one of the many that Rossini cranked out. Forgive my salty remarks but I do believe this opera is a dog. Woof, Woof.

Mar. 05 2011 02:18 PM
Howard L. Levin from Jersey City, NJ

When I saw and heard Armida last season, I felt that Fleming skating over the difficulties presented by the role. But she is considerably older than she was when she recorded the opera so many years ago.
I still feel the oepra offers its tenors a great opportunity to shine, especially Mr. Brownlee.
I do regret that, at 75 I have not develoed the discerning taste of a certain woman from Elmont, NY, sho finds the tenor's aria so boring and repetetive. I think Mr. Brownlee does an excellent job with his role, and I am grateful the Met is offering such fine performances of this opera.
From the sound of it, the audience in the opera house is certainly enjoying it. What would it be like if everyone in the audience felt as Ms. Nardone?

Mar. 05 2011 02:16 PM
Anthony from London

Yes, neglected for a reason...it has its very good moments, but nothing in particular stands out about it. It reminds me of the mock operas Andrew Lloyd Weber wrote into his "Phantom of the Opera" immitating "standard" Verdis & Mozarts. It's still very nice, though, to hear something one hasn't heard (I haven't) to give a little break from the standard repertoire of greats...but then, there are soooo many great ones that we haven't heard in years. Fleming is still pretty good though, but commensurate with this opera: above average & good, but not great.

Mar. 05 2011 02:16 PM
Mike from NYC

Fleming really sounds sub-par today and much worse than last year :-s Is there a stand-by so we can be spared this attempted singing and running through phrases?

Mar. 05 2011 01:55 PM
Dirk from Brooklyn

I wonder whether this is the best role for Renee Fleming though. She has good chest voice but doesn't let it rip in the high range much. I hear the final act is worth staying for though.

Mar. 05 2011 01:36 PM
concetta nardone from Elmont, NY

Oh dear, another neglected masterpiece that deserves to be neglected. Were I ever to be stranded on an island, this is not one of the dozen operas I would want to have with me. Love the twittering flutes during the tenor aria. Rossini wrote more worthy scores, among them Moses and William Tell. My God, how long is the tenor aria going to last. Oomp pa pa. Must admit that this opera is not going to interfere with the sacred duty of cooking, I can listen to it and ignore it. Hope that something surprising music wise comes along.

Mar. 05 2011 01:24 PM

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