Last year’s show in Wexford, which took a long and dutiful time to prepare, was conducted by Norbert Baxa and had great reviews in the international press. The last time Armida was staged in Czechia was in 2012 at the National Moravian and Silesian Theatre, prepared by Robert Jindra. Plzeň has seen only two versions in 1925 and 1943. Thus it will be only the third version at the J. K. Tyl Theatre.
Armida (1904) was Dvořák’s tenth and last opera and, outside his homeland, has been neglected like all his other operas except Rusalka. Determined to devote his final years to opera but stuck for a suitable libretto, he turned to a tale from Torquato Tasso that had been put on stage almost a hundred times since the 17th century, from Lully to Rossini. The story of love between the crusader Rinaldo and Saracen sorceress Armida was not an obvious choice for the new century, and it failed. Wagner’s 1882 Parsifal told of Christian knights on a quest, a sorcerer, and a magic garden, but even then seemed a throwback in a post-Carmen era.
Sources: Operaplus.cz, Bachtrack.com
Photo: Martina Root; Antonín Dvořák: Armida – Aleš Briscein, Ivana Veberová, Divadlo J. K. Tyla Plzeň