Georg Friedrich Händel
Transform your dreams into reality.
The powerful sorceress Alcina has created a magnificent palace in beautiful countryside upon an island, where she lures lovers into her web of power. One of them is the Christian knight Ruggiero, who succumbs to her spells and forgets about his fiancée Bradamante. However, she does not want to give him up and sets out in disguise to save him. The most charming aspect of Händel´s work is the music, and Alcina contains some of the most beautiful pieces that have ever been written for the human voice. Only a few authors have ever managed to use such exceptional melodic invention in their works, to express such dramatic feeling and, above all, such a deep understanding of that which is hidden in the depths of the human soul. After his successful staging of Purcell´s Dido and Aeneas, Václav Luks will be returning to the Brno Opera, this time with the entire Collegium 1704 orchestra, which today is one of the best ensembles specialising in the historically informed interpretation of musical works. Spectators can look forward not only to great singing performances, but also to music performed with Baroque instruments. Alongside Collegium 1704, French theatres in Caen and Versailles are also partners in the production. Händel wrote his 34th opera in the spring of 1735 for the Theatre Royal in Covent Garden, which boasted expensive stage equipment that made it possible to achieve spectacular theatrical effects. The magical theme of the work, which is originally based on a part of Ariosto´s poem Orlando Furioso, was a good fit for Covent Garden’s capabilities. It will be the first time that Händel´s Alcina is performed on the Brno stage.
Staged in the Italian original with Czech, German and English subtitles.
Premiere: 5th February 2022 at the Janáček Theatre
Performace is 4hours long.
Synopsis of the Opera
An island amidst the ocean… with a house on a beach. A hippogriff lands on the sand, bearing the knight Ruggiero. Where has he found himself, and what secrets lie hidden in the house, where he can see a beautiful woman standing in the window?
The island belongs to the sorceress Alcina. She welcomes Ruggiero to her palace as a guest, and he soon becomes her lover. It seems as though Alcina has finally found her one true love. However, Ruggiero is sought by his fiancée, the warrior Bradamante, who is disguised as a man, the knight Ricciardo, and accompanied by her tutor Melisso. Because of a storm, their boat is wrecked during their arrival, and they are found on the beach by Morgana, Alcina’s sister. She is immediately attracted to Ricciardo, who seems a handsome young man. Immediately forgetting her lover Oronte, she invites both castaways to the palace. A place full of magic opens up before them, and Queen
Alcina welcomes them herself. Bradamante discovers that Ruggiero has fallen in love with Alcina, and has forgotten all about his previous life. A boy named Oberto also lives at Alcina’s court, but he is trying in vain to find his father, who was one of Alcina’s previous lovers and has been transformed into an animal like all the others. Bradamante and Melisso try to persuade Ruggiero to return to his duties, but he can’t think of anything other than Alcina.
Oronte finds out that Morgana has fallen in love with Bradamante/ Ricciardo, and tries to challenge the knight to a duel. Morgana stops him, and announces that she is free to love whoever she wants. Oronte decides to get rid of his rival by provoking Ruggiero to jealousy. Ruggiero makes a jealous scene in front of Alcina, and accuses her of loving Ricciardo. However, Alcina reassures him that she will always love only him. Bradamante loses control and reveals her identity to Ruggiero, but Melisso swiftly intervenes.
Morgana discovers that Alcina wants to change Bradamante/ Ricciardo into an animal in order to reassure Ruggiero of her feelings for him. Morgana goes to warn Bradamante/Ricciardo, who tells her that he loves someone other than Alcina. Morgana assumes he is talking about her.
Melisso magically assumes the form of Ruggiero’s tutor Atlante in order to persuade the knight to put on a magic ring, which allows him to suddenly see the island as a desert. Ruggiero decides to leave, but Melisso advises him to pretend to Alcina that he wants to go hunting. Bradamante impatiently reveals her identity to him, but Ruggiero believes it’s another of Alcina’s enchantments, and runs away from her. Alcina is preparing to change Bradamante/Ricciardo into an animal so as to quench Ruggiero’s jealousy. He tries to persuade her that it isn’t necessary. Morgana appears and announces that Ricciardo loves her. Ruggiero asks Alcina if he can go on a hunt. She reluctantly
agrees. Oberto arrives looking for his father. Alcina promises that he will soon meet him. Oronte finds out that Ruggiero and the others are preparing to escape, and goes to Alcina to inform her. Alcina is desperate, but wants to fight for her love.
Oronte mocks Morgana, saying that her new lover has betrayed her, but she doesn’t want to believe him. Bradamante reveals to Oberto that Alcina has transformed his father into a lion. Ruggiero begs Bradamante for forgiveness. Morgana surprises them, uncovers Bradamante/Ricciardo’s true form, and promises revenge. Ruggiero bids a sad farewell to the place where he’s found so much happiness. Alcina, terrified that Ruggiero is leaving her, tries in vain to find the magical power within her that can stop him.
Morgana tries to reconcile with Oronte, but he just returns her words about freedom in love, even though he still loves her. Ruggiero gets a boat ready to leave and is surprised by Alcina. She begs him to stay, but when she understands that the situation is hopeless, drives him away from her.
Bradamante refuses to leave the island until they have freed all the victims of Alcina’s magic. Oronte, who has joined their side, helps contrive a battle with Alcina’s servants. He goes to Alcina and announces that the battle is lost, and leaves her to her desperation. Oberto is looking forward to meeting his father, but Alcina gives him a weapon and orders him to kill a lion which is approaching them. Oberto refuses because he recognises the lion is his father. Bradamante and Ruggiero appear. Alcina tries to persuade them that if Ruggiero leaves, according to prophesy only death will await him. Even so, Bradamante and Melisso pressurise Ruggiero to break the magic pearl hidden in a ring Alcina made for him. He is unsure, but breaks the pearl in the end. The spell is broken and the men who were transformed into animals are freed. All of them leave the island, and Ruggiero’s final look back is reserved for Alcina, who has lost her love, and is left with only loneliness.