Saturday, 5 October 2013


“No good opera plot can be sensible, for people do not sing when they are feeling sensible.” - W. H. Auden

“Alcina” (HWV 34) is an opera seria by George Frideric Handel. Handel used the libretto of “L’ Isola di Alcina”, an opera that was set in 1728 in Rome by Riccardo Broschi, which he acquired the year after, during his travels in Italy. The plot was originally taken from – but partly altered for better conformity – Ludovico Ariosto’s “Orlando Furioso” (like those of the Handel operas “Orlando” and “Ariodante”), an epic poem set in the time of Charlemagne’s wars against Islam. The opera contains several musical sequences with opportunity for dance: these were composed for dancer Marie Sallé.

“Alcina” was composed for Handel’s first season at the Covent Garden Theatre, London. It premiered on April 16, 1735. Like the composer's other works in the opera seria genre, it fell into obscurity; after a revival in Brunswick in 1738 it was not performed again until a production in Leipzig in 1928.

Here it is in its entirety performed by the Staatsorchester Stuttgart, in 1999, conducted by Alan Hacker, with:
Catherine Nagletstad – Alcina
Alice Coote – Ruggiero
Helene Schneiderman – Bradamante
Catriona Smith – Morgana
Rolf Romei – Oronte
Michael Ebbecke – Melisso
Claudia Mahnke – Oberto
Heinz Gerger – Astolfo

Musically it is wonderful, but the unfortunate modern-day costumes and setting by stage directors Jossi Wieler and Sergio Morabito are really distracting and so out of keeping with the opera that they grate on me… Never mind, just listen to the music!


  1. I'm with you. How to ruin the effect of the glorious music - put everyone in modern undress. What is the purpose of this? Baroque opera is most enjoyable and part of the appeal is the extravagant scenery and costumes.

  2. PS: Musically, I am enjoying this!