Alcina
  • George Frideric Handel. Opera in three acts. 1735.
  • Anonymous libretto, based on Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso (Orlando in Madness), adapted from the libretto of Riccardo Broschi’s L’isola di Alcina (The Island of Alcina).
  • First performance at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, London, on 16th April 1735.
CHARACTERS
Alcina, a sorceress soprano
Morgana, her sister soprano
Ruggiero, a knight male alto
Bradamante, his betrothed contralto
Oronte, commander of Alcina’s army tenor
Melisso, Bradamante’s guardian bass
Oberto, a young nobleman treble

The crusader Ruggiero is captivated by Alcina and held by her on her magic island. Bradamante, disguised as a man, and Melisso come in search of him. Morgana is attracted to the disguised Bradamante, to the jealousy of her lover Oronte. Ruggiero, with no memory of the past, seeks to persuade Alcina to bewitch Bradamante. Ruggiero recovers his senses, through the agency of Melisso and a magic ring that shows the island to be barren. Ruggiero and Bradamante try to make their escape and succeed in destroying the magic power of Alcina and Morgana. The opera includes an additional role for Oberto, a boy seeking his father, who has been bewitched by Alcina but is eventually rescued from his predicament.

An opera seria, Alcina nevertheless has elements of spectacle and dance. It won success at its first staging in London and was revived on a number of occasions, with appropriate revisions by the composer. It remains among the most popular of Handel’s operas. Concert excerpts include Morgana’s Tornami a vagheggiar (Return to dreaming) and Ruggiero’s Verdi prati (Green meadows).