Alcina, HWV 34

Composer: Georg Frideric Handel (b. 1685 - d. 1759)
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Composer: Georg Frideric Handel (b. 1685 - d. 1759)

Performance date: 05/07/2018

Venue: St. Brendan’s Church

Composition Year: 1735

Duration: 00:08:05

Recording Engineer: Ciaran Cullen, RTÉ

Instrumentation Category:Baroque Ensemble

Instrumentation Other: 3vn, va, vc, db, lute, hpd, ob

Artists: Berit Norbakken Solset - [soprano]
Camerata Øresund (Ida Lorenzen [violin], Tinne Albrechtsen [violin], Alison Luthmers [vioin], Rastko Roknic [viola], Hanna Loftsdóttir [cello], Joakim Peterson [double bass], Dohyo Sol [lute], Magdalena Karolak [oboe], Marcus Mohlin [harpsicord]) - [baroque ensemble]

On 16 April 1735 Alcina opened at Covent Garden Theatre and ran for an impressive eighteen performances extending Handel’s first season at the theatre to the beginning of July. The libretto is loosely based on Cantos 6 and 7 of Ariosto’s epic poem Orlando furioso. Alcina, the sorceress lures heroes back to her magic island where she turns them into animals or other items. Her latest capture, the knight Ruggiero is enthralled with the delights the island has to offer and his fiancée Brademente has consequently slipped his mind. She, however has not forgotten her love and intends to find him and win him back. Bradamente disguised as her brother, and Ruggiero’s old tutor Melissa arrive on the island to rescue Ruggiero. Melisso uses a magic ring to break the illusion of the island’s beauties and he and Brademante convince Ruggiero to escape with them. When Alcina discovers his betrayal of her she vows to use her magic to prevent him from leaving her. In the final scene of Act 2 Alcina is in an underground vault she uses to cast her spells however the spirits are refusing to obey her. It is in this scene that the magnificent accompanied recitative and Aria Ah! Ruggiero crudel, is heard. Alcina’s desperation is musically underlined by strange harmonies in the beginning of the recitative and undulating running motifs dominate the aria suggesting shadowy spirits in a persistent minor key which articulates Alcina’s resignation to fate.