According to the Sept. 29th feature published on the Staatsoper blog, the new Gluck “Armide” in Vienna (staging: Ivan Alexandre) might have an interesting queer angle.
The production already has a strong pitch: Marc Minkowski will conduct and bring Les Musiciens du Louvre, for both “Armide” and “Alcina” (while the Vienna Phil are touring Japan with Kasarova’s Composer). Plus Gaëlle Arquez will sing Armide. And now it seems the staging is adding another twist.
According to the blog feature linked above, sorceress Armide – who falls head-over-heels for Crusader Knight Renaud (Rinaldo, for us Handelians) – will be staged as a young male-bodied Muslim soldier presenting as female.
So this is basically “Medoro —?!
I know, I know. There are a many ways this could turn out a transphobic mess: queer desire, othered faiths, gender transgression projected into the non-Western space and characters.
But it could also turn out a really interesting look at self, projection, passion and faith in an intercultural Tasso setting while being trans/queer-inclusive.
Either way: I want to see this now even more (the prospect of Gaëlle Arquez playing a man playing a woman and getting to navigate across that range is not really a point in the negative, either).
What throws me most about this, however, is the fact that this is happening at Vienna Staatsoper. Actual staging. Even more: concept staging. Regie! And Baroque!! (I guess in Vienna, at least at the Staatsoper, Gluck still counts as Baroque?)
…was the graveyard shift on duty when this was signed off? (Graveyard shift: let me buy you a beer. Or five.)