ABSTRACT

In February of 1753, at the height of the Parisian dispute of taste between Italian and French opera that came to be known as the Querelle des Bouffons, the philosophe Denis Diderot published a pamphlet that proposed a possible means of resolution. Moreover, the scene in Lully's opera that Rousseau and Rameau argued over presents a moment of theatrical and psychological ambiguity that arguably marks an important transition in the baroque imagination. Philippe Quinault's libretto for the second act of Lully's Armide broadly follows the narrative sequence outlined in Tasso. It would be wonderful to say that Quinault's fascination with Armide's arresting moment of self-doubt was precipitated by his gazing upon Poussin's great picture, but such a neat formulation cannot be proven. Lightly treated in the texture of Tasso's poem, the idea of Armida's hesitation offered Poussin the opportunity to present her reaction as a subject in itself.