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on 3 October 2011
Rossini's epic masterpiece Arimda, tells the story of a Sorceress (Renee Fleming),who is in love with the knight Rinaldo (Lawrence Brownlee). Armida introduces herself to the commander of Rinaldo's order and claims that her throne had been taken over by an evil uncle. However,her real plan is to enslave the soldiers and seduce Rinaldo.

The knights are struck by her beauty and convince the commander to help her. They choose Rinaldo to be their new leader, which causes knight Gernando to be immensely jealous. He insults Rinaldo, which results in his death. Armida rescues Rinaldo from the anger of the other knights and she takes him to her underground realm, but all does not end well.

This mesmerizing opera, is incredibly demanding for its singers. The role of Armida, consists of an astonishing blend of bel canto, coloratura and dramatic soprano and can only be sung by an extraordinarily skilled singer. Renee Fleming, showing her wide range and the beauty of her voice, gave a fantastic performance, stealing the show.

Lawrence Brownlee's performance almost seemed effortless in this demanding role, sounding incredible and reaching notes that most tenor's can only dream of singing,creating a wonderful effect.

The ballet scenes are wonderfully choreographed and adds further excitement for the audience. The set design is simplistic when Armida appears before the crusaders, but it is outstanding in the underworld, cleverly showing the audience that these scenes are going to be enthralling to watch and hear.

A wonderful production with a brilliant overall result, Arimida is a feast for the ears and definitely worth purchasing.
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on 14 August 2015
The opening set is a curved hall, with arched entrances and a top walkway. With a young girl descending on a ribbon it makes a good start, it seems that she is a sort of female cupid. Scenery descends and a chorus of Frankish Knights in strange uniforms, with others in greatcoats, they kick it all off to start proceedings.
The first soloist is Goffredo, sung by John Osborne in a soft toned tenor voice.
Armida is brought in in style in a chariot drawn by men. She is demurely dressed in a white robe, she is of course Renee Fleming in fine voice.
The role of Gernando is sung by Barry Banks, an unusual voiced alto tenor, his voice rings out clearly and is a pleasure to hear. I have come across him a few times and he always impresses.
One is really spoiled for choice with tenors as Lawrence Brownlea as Renaldo, he has a light clear tenor with a most appealing vibrato, he sings very easily and acts the part pretty well too.
Act two starts with a ballet and chorus in an enchanted forest, the eye catching demons are have great costumes.
Armida and Renaldo descend from the sky and the scene transforms to the haven of pleasure. They watch a ballet of Knights and nymphs, who eventually all transform to nymphs and take part in a ballet seducing Renaldos alter ego, this is very watchable, and the demons in ballet skirts adds an amusing touch.
In act three there are Devils and nymphs in a field of poppies. The duet between Barry Banks and Carlo Van Resburgh as the rescuing Knights Ubaldo and Carlo is something of a highlight. Note this is Barry Banks second role. Quite a bit of this act is played front of curtain, which is rather limiting. The end result is after some prolonged musical arguments Renaldo sees the light and returns to his military duties.
I watched this on Sky Arts and this is on my wish list for the future, but there are some limitations with the staging and sets, there is nothing to compare with, but it feels as if it could be staged better. The surfeit of great tenors is a real bonus. The performance of Renee Fleming vocally is very good, it is demanding and she rises to the occasion. The problem arrives with her characterisation, something I have noticed in other production, she is fine when she is the goody. In this case and with Thais she looks like her idea of seduction is to take her victim home for tea and scones with he mother. This basically is why it comes down to four stars, but it will be added to my library shortly..
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It can be easy to dismiss lesser known works by great composers with the thought that they must be inferior in some way otherwise they would be performed more often and be better known. This brilliant Metropolitan Opera performance of Rossini's Armida convincingly disproves any such conjecture. Renee Fleming gives an outstanding performance in the lead, only vocal female role of the sorceress Armida. and is well supported by an excellent cast and sympathetic orchestration along with suggestive, but not overdone, staging. Both sound and picture quality are very good and, all told, we have here a very entertaining and enjoyable watch.

The helpful accompanying booklet contributes to the understanding and enjoyment of the work and I could find no problems with either sound or picture quality. We have here a very 'more-ish' performance, one that we can pop into the player and turn a tired evening into an enchanted one. Renee Fleming wears eye-catching costumes throughout the performance and has all the top quality male performers floundering around her like a horde of besotted elfin folk. The work includes an oasis in a desert, a ghastly forest, Armida's pleasure palace, Armida's enchanted garden and the seashore near her palace. There are three acts with a ballet in Act 2, scene 2.

Here we have an outstanding example of the truth that it's always more rewarding and enjoyable to watch a well staged, well sung and well acted performance of a lesser known work than to have to endure a badly presented performance of a well known one. All those involved in this performance give the impression that they are giving of their best and thoroughly enjoying themselves, which is infectious and easily caught by the viewer.
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on 2 May 2016
Classic Rossini and a valuable addition to my Rossini collection! In my book he has never done anything wrong, ... however I'm sure that there are those who might argue otherwise!
A beautiful performance of a very old story and the music sits perfectly with the tale. The artists performance was in my opinion sublime!
I would happily recommend anyone to take a look at this version; I'm sure that you won't be disappointed.
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on 18 August 2015
A wonderful opera that is produced well with stunning bel canto singing from Renee Fleming. The find for me is the singing of Lawrence Brownlee, an accomplished tenor voice. The singers are all very good and their acting skills match these to make them convincing characters. I recommend this DVD to any lover of Rossini.
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on 20 November 2013
Fleming's performance by itself would justify this presentation, but the Met's production as a whole matches her talent as singer and actress.

Rossini's brilliant score has everything that can imagine for a great singer, and the cast, with Feming above all, performs perfectly.

A delightful show not to be missed by bel canto lovers.
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on 11 January 2016
Wonderful opera and a great performance from the met
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on 4 March 2015
Outstanding
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on 11 November 2014
sorry but this was not to my liking the discs were faulty but what I could see of it before they froze thought I would enjoy Brownlee but no and the story was complicated could not understand it too much
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