In these three librettos, Philippe Quinault turns from classical opera to medieval legends--Renaud and Armida, Amadis and Oriana, and Angelica and Roland--exploring the tensions between love and glory. As usual, the dramatist relates his stories deftly with classic simplicity. In these adaptions of traditional medieval stories of romance, enchantment, monsters, and magic, either the heroine (Armida or Angelica) loves the hero she should hate, or the hero falls for an enemy enchantress, and has to be rescued from her clutches. The love "cure" is usually effected by means of magic or through the intervention of a fairy. Great entertainment from early French literature!
Philippe Quinault (1635-1688) was the highest paid and most respected French librettist of his day, considered the equal of Racine. His libretti can be read as lyrical dramas without the music. The two plays included in this collection are retellings of the ancient legends of the Gods by the Roman poet Ovid. In Cadmus and Hermione, Cadmus, the founder of Thebes, rescues Hermione, daughter of Venus and Mars, from a giant who insists on marrying her. To accomplish this he slays a dragon and sows the creature's teeth, which turn into warriors who fight against him. In Perseus, the son of Jupiter rescues Andromeda from Juno's revenge, and slays the hideous Gorgon, Medusa, with the help of the Gods. Great Greek tragedy, of interest both to fans of the opera and of the drama.