Sunday 22 January 2023 - 15 h
Tuesday 24 January 2023 - 19 h
Thursday 26 January 2023 - 19 h
Dramma per musica in three acts
Music by Georg Friedrich Handel (1685-1759)
Anonymous libretto, adapted from L'isola di Alcina by Riccardo Broschi (1728)
based on Ariosto's Orlando Furioso (songs VI and VII)
Premiere: London, Covent Garden, 16 April 1735
Premiere at the Monte Carlo Opera in a staged version
Coproduction with the Zurich Opera House
A work of enchantment, music and dance, Handel’s Alcina only reappeared briefly in the 20th century in 1928 before experiencing a real renaissance in the 1960s. Beyond these first literal readings, how can the 21st century nourish our perception of this work?
Stage director Christof Loy, whose production of Ariodante was seen on the Monegasque stage in 2019, transforms Alcina’s magical kingdom into a metaphor for theatre. His idea, which allows him to explore a wide scope of options, is built around the singer taking on the title role, Cecilia Bartoli. Capable of expressing all the layers of identity that are superimposed, she offers here all the multiplicity of her incarnation: she is at the same time the character of Alcina but also a singer anchored in her status as a diva. This concept of theatre within the theatre is wonderfully enhanced by the sumptuous sets of Johannes Leiacker and the subtle costumes of Ursula Renzenbrink, enhanced by the lighting of Bernd Purkrabek. Surrounding the main character and led by the idiomatic baton of Gianluca Capuano, we find the finest performers of this repertoire, which requires absolute technical and musical mastery without forgetting a perfect theatrical sensitivity.
Gianluca Capuano has been principal conductor of Les Musiciens du Prince-Monaco since 2019. He studied the organ, composition and conducting at the Conservatory in his hometown of Milan and went on to specialize in early music at the city’s Scuola Civica. He also studied theoretical philosophy at the University of Milan. He has appeared as a soloist and as a conductor throughout Europe, the United States, Russia and Japan. In 2006 he founded Il Canto di Orfeo, an instrumental and vocal ensemble with which he performs a wide-ranging Baroque repertoire, working with some of the finest musicians and singers active in the field of historically-informed performance practice. Gianluca Capuano came to international attention in August 2016, when he stepped in at short notice to conduct Norma with Cecilia Bartoli on the opening night of the Edinburgh Festival. Bartoli then invited him to conduct further performances of Norma at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and in Baden-Baden as well as a European tour of La Cenerentola with Les Musiciens du Prince-Monaco. He has also conducted Ariodante and Il turco in Italia in Monte Carlo, Orfeo ed Euridice for the Rome Opera, Il matrimonio segreto for the Dutch National Opera, Guillaume Tell at the Chorégies d’Orange, Il barbiere di Siviglia at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo, L’elisir d’amore at the Teatro Real in Madrid, La Cenerentola and Iphigénie en Tauride in Zurich. Gianluca Capuano made his Salzburg debut at the 2017 Whitsun Festival, conducting Les Musiciens du Prince-Monaco in Ariodante and a concert performance of La donna del lago, following this up in 2018 with a recital of arias associated with the legendary tenor Manuel García and sung by Javier Camarena. Highlights from this programme were released on CD. His second CD for Decca, an album devoted to the legendary Pauline Viardot showcasing mezzosoprano Varduhi Abrahamyan and Les Musiciens du Prince-Monaco was released april, 2021. Plans include: L’italiana in Algeri at the Zurich Opernhaus; Il turco in Italia and Die Zauberflöte in Munich; L’elisir d’amore in Hamburg; Il barbiere di Siviglia and a gala concert at the Salzburg Festival; La Cenerentola in Martigny, Zurich and Vienna; Il turco in Italia, L’elisir d’amore, Don Pasquale, Il barbiere di Siviglia and a gala concert in Vienna; Alceste in Rome.
Christof Loy is one of the most internationally sought-after opera and theatre directors of his generation. His meticulously crafted productions have earned him numerous awards. He has been named Director of the Year several times by Opernwelt magazine. In 2017 he was named Director of the year at the International Opera Awards, where he also won the 2016 award for “Best New Production” for Britten’s Peter Grimes at the Theater an der Wien (Vienna). He has an intensive and long-standing collaboration with many of the world’s leading opera houses: Theatre an der Wien (Peter Grimes, Maria Stuarda, Euryanthe and Zazà), the Bavarian State Opera (Lucrezia Borgia, Roberto Devereux and Le nozze di Figaro), the Zurich Opera House (La straniera, Alcina, I Capuleti e i Montecchi and Don Pasquale), the Salzburg Festival (Theodora, Die Frau ohne Schatten, Ariodante and Così fan tutte), the Royal Opera Stockholm (La fanciulla del West, Parsifal, Der Rosenkavalier and Der ferne Klang), Royal Opera House Covent Garden (Ariadne auf Naxos, Lulu and Tristan und Isolde), De Nederlandse Opera in Amsterdam (Arabella, Khovanshchina, La forza del destino and Tannhäuser), the Teatro Real Madrid (Capriccio and Rusalka) and many more. Projects in the current season include Christmas Eve (Rimsky-Korsakov) at Oper Frankfurt, Die Winterreise (Schubert) at Theater Basel, Salome (Strauss) at Finnish National Opera Helsinki, Der Schatzgräber (Schreker) at Deutsche Oper Berlin and Il trittico (Puccini) at Salzburger Festspiele.
Johannes Leiacker has designed the sets and costumes for plays and operas all over the world. Engagements have taken him to the Deutsche Oper in Berlin, the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, the Vienna State Opera, the Dutch National Opera in Amsterdam, the Paris Opéra, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in London, the Los Angeles Opera, the Houston Grand Opera, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the opera houses in Madrid, Brussels, Copenhagen, Zurich, Helsinki, Moscow and Tokyo and the Salzburg, Bregenz and Baden-Baden Festivals. Johannes Leiacker has worked closely over many years with three directors in particular: Christof Loy, Peter Konwitschny and Rolando Villazón. The Covent Garden production of Tristan und Isolde, directed by Christof Loy, won an Olivier Award in 2010, while Peter Grimes at the Theater an der Wien (Vienna), also directed by Loy, was named New Production of the Year at the International Opera Awards in 2016. Johannes Leiacker was voted Stage Designer of the Year in a poll of critics undertaken by Opernwelt magazine in 1996, 2009 and 2018. Until 2010 he held a professorship at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts.
Ursula Renzenbrink was born in 1952 in Hamburg where she studied stage design with Prof. Wilfried Minks. After two years working as an assistant at the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg, she then worked as costume designer for theatre productions with many well-known directors. From 1995 on, she also worked for opera productions, and since 2008 has collaborated regularly with Christof Loy, including on Louise by Charpentier at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Handel’s Theodora at the Salzburg Festival, Alceste by Gluck in Aix-en-Provence, Les Vêpres siciliennes by Verdi at the Musiektheater of Amsterdam (followed by a repeat performance in 2011 at the Grand Théâtre de Genève), Lehár’s The Merry Widow at the Grand Théâtre de Genève, Die Frau ohne Schatten by Richard Strauss at the Salzburg Festival, and the world premiere of Der Sandmann by Andrea Scartazzini at the Theater Basel. Her most recent productions include: Handel’s Alcina in Zurich and Mozart’s Don Giovanni in Frankfurt (2014), Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina (2016) and Wagner’s Tannhäuser (2019) in Amsterdam, and Christmas Eve by Rimsky-Korsakov in Frankfurt 2021. She recently designed the costumes for Verdi’s Luisa Miller for her debuts at the Glyndebourne Festival (2021). She has also designed the costumes for stage productions by Luk Perceval, including for Janáček’s The Makropulos Affair (Hannover Staatstheater, 2005) and Monteverdi’s Vespers of the Blessed Virgin (Berlin State Opera, 2007).
Bernd Purkrabek (1982) was always fascinated by the light. He got early started as a photographer and studied Lichtgestaltung at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater München (Germany), during his studies he worked as assistant/associate lighting designer for Reinhard Traub and Asa Frankenberg. Bernd Purkrabek is since 2011 an international lighting designer working in dance, drama and opera. He developed the lighting design in collaboration with the artistic team in numerous productions: Der Prinz von Homburg, Les Vêpres siciliennes, Macbeth, Jenůfa, La fanciulla del West, The Enchantress, Maria Stuarda and Peter Grimes all directed by Christof Loy; Lazarus, Saul and Jephtha directed by Claus Guth; Der ferne Klang directed by Florentine Klepper; Suster Bertken and Troparion both directed by Pierre Audi; Beatrice Cenci, Lohengrin and Caruso a Cuba directed by Johannes Erath; Kontrapunkt choreographed by Jörg Weinöhl. Engagements have taken him to the Dutch National Opera in Amsterdam, the Paris Opéra, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in London, the Deutsche Oper in Berlin, the Glyndebourne Festival, the Vienna State Opera, the New National Theatre Tokyo, the Wiener Festwochen, the opera houses in Cologne, Geneva, Zurich, Hamburg, Nancy, Strasbourg, Toulouse, Graz, Barcelona, Stockholm, and Oslo. He was nominated for the Knight of Illumination Award 2017 for his work on Così fan tutte at the Royal Opera House.
Thomas Wilhelm studied dance at the Palucca University of Dance Dresden. He dances in ballets of the Dresden, Leipzig and Göteborg Opera Houses, as well as for the Stephan Thoss Dance Company in Kiel, and the Hannover Staatstheater where he is also choreographer. He has developed a long-standing artistic partnership with the stage director Christof Loy. Together they have created the stage settings for the major European opera houses (Copenhagen, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Geneva, Zurich, Basel, Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, London), as well for the festivals of Salzburg and Aix-en-Provence, notably Alcina at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, I Capuleti e i Montecchi at the Zurich Opera, Peter Grimes at the Theater an der Wien of Vienna, where he also presented Zazá by Leoncavallo. He also works with Nadja Loschky and Amélie Niermeyer (Otello at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich). In collaboration with Damiano Michieletto he choreographed Jenůfa at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Salome at La Scala Milan, Orpheus and Eurydice at the Berlin Komische Oper, and recently the world premiere of Le baruffe by Giorgio Battistelli at La Fenice of Venice.
With an ongoing and magnificent performing career of more than 30 years, mezzosoprano Cecilia Bartoli has established herself as one of the world’s leading classical music artists. Her work on stage is empowered by a fiery passion for the uncovering of rare music and a profound interest into historically informed performance. Her large-scale projects encompassing various art forms brought her worldwide recognition and prestigious management positions in Salzburg and Monte Carlo. Today, Cecilia may proudly claim to have written music history, and to have become a role model for future generations. All of Cecilia’s projects are characterised by the basic features of her personality: musicality, intellect and theatricality, combined with great warmth, charisma and feeling. Born in Rome and educated by her mother, singing teacher Silvana Bazzoni, Cecilia was discovered by Daniel Barenboim, Herbert von Karajan and Nikolaus Harnoncourt, each of whom should leave his imprint on her quickly emerging worldwide career. Over the years, she was to perform with leading orchestras and conductors at all major opera houses, concert venues and festivals throughout North America, Europe, the Far East and Australia. Innovative projects dedicated to neglected music, which combine extensive concert tours, best-selling recordings, spectacular stage productions, inventive films and multimedia events have become a trademark of Cecilia’s work. Since 2012, she has served as artistic director of the Salzburg Whitsun Festival, and in 2023 she assumes the position of director of the Opéra de Monte-Carlo, as the first woman in the history of this opera house. Also in Monte-Carlo, her period instrument orchestra, Les Musiciens du Prince – Monaco, was founded in 2016 with the patronage of HSH Prince Albert II and HRH Caroline the Princess of Hanover. Together, Cecilia and this ensemble perform at their homebase in Monte Carlo and throughout Europe. Cecilia sings a repertoire built on Rossini, Mozart, Handel, and their times. However, her meticulous research into the vocality and roles performed by famous singers such as Farinelli, Maria Malibran or Giuditta Pasta encouraged her to venture into areas which had so far not been considered for mezzo-sopranos. Milestones in her career include the first-ever production of Rossini’s Cenerentola at the MET in New York in 1997, the legendary Vivaldi-Album, sold millions of times since 1999, the Paris concert marathon on the day of Maria Malibran’s 200th birthday in 2008, her iconoclastic approach to Bellini’s Norma in 2013 as part of a comprehensive project which included the score’s scientific reconstruction based on the composer’s manuscripts, a deliriously received week of Rossini operas at the Vienna State Opera in 2022. The Cecilia Bartoli – Music Foundation was founded as part of Cecilia’s philantropic work and aims at bringing classical music to a wider audience and at collaborating with talented young musicians. Among others, it created a new record label, mentored by Bartoli, in collaboration with Decca. Talented musicians such as Javier Camarena or Varduhi Abrahamyan were enabled to record their first studio albums thanks to this venture. Honorary Doctorates, five Grammys, more than a dozen Echos and Brit Awards, the Polar Music Prize, the Léonie-Sonning-Music Prize, the Herbert von Karajan Prize and many other recognitions underline Cecilia Bartoli’s significant role in the world of culture and music. As a consequence, Cecilia was appointed President of Europa Nostra – the European Voice of Civil Society Committed to Cultural and Natural Heritage. She took up this position for an initial mandate of five years in 2022.
Born in 1978, Philippe Jaroussky has established himself as the most admired countertenor of his generation, as confirmed by the French ‘Victoires de la Musique’ awards (‘Révélation Artiste lyrique’ in 2004, ‘Artiste lyrique de l’année’ in 2007 and in 2010, CD of the Year 2009) and Echo Klassik Awards in Germany (2008, 2016). Jaroussky’s technique allows him the most audacious nuances and impressive pyrotechnics. He has explored a vast Baroque repertoire, from the refinement of the Italian Seicento with Monteverdi, Sances and Rossi, to the staggering brilliance of Handel and Vivaldi arias (singing more music by the latter composer than any other over the last few years). He has worked with renowned period-instrument orchestras such as L’Arpeggiata, Les Arts florissants, Ensemble Matheus, Les Musiciens du Louvre, Le Concert d’Astrée, Le Cercle de l’harmonie and Europa Galante. Philippe Jaroussky is signed exclusively to Erato and has received numerous awards for his recordings with the label. With Heroes (Vivaldi opera arias) and La dolce fiamma he achieved Gold Disc status; his tribute to Carestini (with Le Concert d’Astrée and Emmanuelle Haïm) won CD of the year at the Victoires de la Musique and the Midem Classical Awards in 2009; his Stabat Mater with soprano Julia Lezhneva and I Barocchisti picked up the 2014 International Classical Music Awards for best Baroque Vocal Album and Best Opera Album. In recent years he has collaborated with singers including Cecilia Bartoli and Nathalie Stutzmann, as well as singing with and directing the Ensemble Artaserse, the Baroque orchestra he founded in 2002. The group takes its name from the Vinci opera Artaserse, which Jaroussky revived in its spectacular modern-day permiere as one of five exceptional countertenors in the cast.
A renowned figure in the world of baroque music, French soprano Sandrine Piau embraces different roles on international stages. The roles she has previously performed include Cleopatra (Giulio Cesare), Morgana (Alcina) at the Opéra de Paris, Dalinda (Ariodante) at the Salzburg Festival, Alcina, Mélisande, Sandrina (La finta giardiniera), Sœur Constance (Dialogue des carmélites) at La Monnaie (Brussels), Alcina and Dalinda (Ariodante) in Amsterdam, Pamina (Die Zauberflöte), Donna Anna (Don Giovanni) and Sœur Constance at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées (Paris), and Despina (Così fan tutte) and Titania (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence. Sandrine Piau regularly gives recitals and has appeared in concert in New York, Paris, London, Tokyo, Munich, Zurich, and Salzburg, and recently in Hamburg for the opening of the Elbphilharmonie. Sandrine Piau has an extensive discography and she now records exclusively for Alpha Classics. In 2020, she released three critically-acclaimed discs: Magic Mozart (with Insula Orchestra and Laurence Equilbey,) L’addio which includes Haydn’s works (with Il Giardino Armonico and Giovanni Antonini) and Clair-obscur, a disc featuring works by Zemlinsky, Berg and Strauss (with the Orchestre Victor-Hugo and Jean-François Verdier). In the 2021/22 season, Sandrine Piau took part in Mozart’s Requiem directed by Romeo Castellucci, at both the Wiener Festwochen and La Monnaie, sings in concerts with ensembles with whom she regularly collaborates, such as Les Paladins and Les Violons du Roy in Canada. Sandrine Piau was g named “Lyrical Artist of the Year” at the Victoires de la Musique Classique award ceremony in 2009.
Born into a family of musicians, the Franco-Armenian mezzosoprano Varduhi Abrahamyan attended the Conservatory of Yerevan. Season 2021-22 commenced with her return to the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich as Carmen and continued with her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York (Rigoletto and Eugene Onegin), followed by Don Carlo at the Marseille Opera and Norma at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona. Recent performances have included her debuts at the Teatro Regio in Turin (Carmen) and the Las Palmas Opera (Don Carlo). She also returned to the Canadian Opera Company (Toronto) in Eugene Onegin, at the Paris Opera as Preziosilla in La forza del destino, and at the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro in Semiramide. She has appeared in Alcina at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris, and at Opernhaus in Zurich with Cecilia Bartoli, Carmen in Oviedo, Palermo, Atlanta, Hong Kong, Zurich, Moscow and Hamburg, Falstaff (Mrs. Quickly), Un ballo in maschera, Carmen and Eugene Onegin at the Paris Opera, Benvenuto Cellini at the Teatro dell’Opera in Rome, La donna del lago at the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, and Polinesso in Handel’s Ariodante at the Canadian Opera Company. Her concert performances include Verdi’s Requiem on tour with the MusicAeterna Ensemble in Moscow, Paris, Cologne, Hamburg, Vienna and Athens. She debuted at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam in Semiramide. She also sang Verdi’s Requiem at the Festival de Saint-Denis with the Orchestre de Paris, and at the Festival Verdi in Parma, Rossini’s Stabat Mater with the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome and at the Philharmonie de Paris, and Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater with Cecilia Bartoli in Martigny and Lugano. Upcoming plans include debuts at the Royal Opera House in Alcina, and at the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples in Die Walküre and Maometto II.
Born in Tula, and a graduate of the Moscow’s Gnessin State Musical College under the tuition of Professor Dmitry Vdovin, Tenor Maxim Mironov started his impressive career after winning the prominent international competition “Neue Stimmen” in Germany. He then joined the Helikon Opera Theatre of Moscow, making his operatic debut in the opera Pierre le Grand by André Grétry in 2002. He is now considered to be one of the best belcanto tenors of today. Since his debut, Maxim has performed in many prestigious stages across the world including; Teatro Real Madrid, Wiener Staatsoper, Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Opéra de Paris, Glyndebourne Festival, Aix-en-Provence Festival, Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, Royal Opera House, Muscat, Liceu Barcelona, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées Paris, Hamburgische Staatsoper, Dresden Semperoper, Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels, Japan Opera Foundation Tokyo, Teatro Comunale in Bologna, Las Palmas Opera, Vlaamse Opera in Antwerp and Théâtre de Luxembourg. In the United States, he made his debut at the Los Angeles Opera for Il turco in Italia to great acclaim and returned to America for Ramiro La Cenerentola with Washington National Opera, and Orfeo ed Euridice with Los Angeles Opera. Known for his exceptional Rossini roles, he has been the protagonist in works including L’italiana in Algeri, Le Comte Ory, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Il viaggio a Reims and La Cenerentola, most recently to high acclaim at the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro in August 2018, and at La Scala in early 2019.
A broad range of repertoire on leading international stages distinguishes Hungarian Péter Kálmán as one of the most dynamic bass-baritones today. Highly regarded for his engaging character portrayals in the Italian “buffo” tradition, he is no less accomplished in the dramatic roles of Bartók, Richard Strauss and Wagner. He has worked with the world’s most prestigious conductors including Christoph von Dohnányi, Ádám Fischer, Nello Santi, Stefan Soltész, Franz Welser-Möst, Jaap van Zweden, Marc Minkowski, Nikolaus Harnoncourt. Highlights of the recent past include La Cenerentola (Don Magnifico) at the Seattle Opera, L’italiana in Algeri (Mustafa) and Handel’s Semele at the Withsun Festival in Salzburg, Der Ring des Nibelungen (Alberich) at the Müpa in Budapest, Puccini’s Il trittico at La Monnaie (Brussels), Le Nozze di Figaro at Glyndebourne, Schubert’s Fierrabras at the Salzburg Festspiele, Il barbiere di Siviglia at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées (Paris), Rossini’s Otello at the Opernhaus Zürich, and Norma in a cast anchored by Cecilia Bartoli with performances in Paris, Baden-Baden and Monte Carlo. At the Hungarian State Opera (Budapest) where Péter Kálmán is a regular guest, he has performed Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte, Nick Shadow in The Rake’s Progress, Dulcamara in L’elisir d’amore, Herr von Faninal in Der Rosenkavalier, Sixtus Beckmesser in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, the four villains in Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Scarpia in Tosca, and the title roles of Don Pasquale and Gianni Schicchi.
Born in 1937 in Erfurt, Inge Katharine Sehnert studied modern dance, dance teaching and choreography with Mary Wigman in Berlin from 1955 to 1963. She was co-founder of the Studiogruppe für Neuen Tanz Motion in Berlin in 1962. From 1970 to 1974 she was the assistant of Pina Bausch, as well as dancer with the Folkwang Tanzstudio of Essen. She then taught dance choreography in Frankfurt. In 1976 she established the Mobile Ensemble in Frankfurt with which she won the Concours chorégraphique de Bagnolet (Paris) in 1978. She then staged her own productions at the Theater am Turm in Frankfurt. In 1982 she opened the Tanzraum in Cologne, a studio and creative centre, and founded the Kontinuum group. After studying in Japan with the butoh dancer Min Tanaka she began to explore more intensively the philosophy and understanding of the body in the butoh dance form. Since 1988 she has concentrated on solo dance. She has given many performances in Germany, Mexico and the USA. In 1994 she was awarded the City of Cologne’s Kölner Tanzpreis for her solo Lautloses Echo. In 2003 the Tanzraum was forced to close. Since then she has worked as independent choreographer, interpreter and teacher. She gives regular seminars and conferences on Mary Wigman’s principles of movement, notably in Essen, Avignon, Hanover and various universities in Germany and Russia. She has participated in the reconstitution of choreographies by Mary Wigman, including Rite of Spring, Totentanz I et Totentanz II in Hamburg, Osnabrück, Angers and Frankfurt.
LES MAÎTRES D’ŒUVRE
Metteur en scène
Assistant à la mise en scène
Assistant aux lumières
Assistant à la chorégraphie
Chef de chant
So Young Sim
Galia Bakalov, soprano
Vincenzo Cristofoli, baryton
Salvatore Taiello, ténor
Stefano De Luca
LES MUSICIENS DU PRINCE – MONACO
Enrico Casazza (leader)
Anna Urpina Rius
Francesco Colletti (leader)
Diego Moreno Castelli
Diego Mecca (leader)
Marco Frezzato (leader)
Antonio Carlo Papetti
Roberto Fernández De Larrinoa (leader)
Flûtes à bec
Marco Scorticati (leader)
Andrea Mion (leader)
Erwin Wieringa (leader)
Orgue et clavecin
Miguel Rincon Rodriguez (leader)
Elisa La Marca
PERSONNEL DE SCÈNE
Directeur de scène
Chef machiniste adjoint
Techniciens de plateau
Chef électricien adjoint
Gaël Le Maux
Chef costumière-habilleuse adjointe
Sous-chef costumière-habilleuse adjointe
Ruggiero has encountered Queen Alcina, who has completely enslaved him. Her kingdom is a magical realm of beauty, illusion and deception of the senses. Under Alcina’s spell, Ruggiero has entirely forgotten his previous life and abandoned his wife, Bradamante. Alcina herself, who has until now treated love as a mere game and only toyed with men, has been overcome with a profound, hitherto unknown passion for Ruggiero. In the company of Melisso, a mutual friend, Bradamante has set off to find Ruggiero and is determined to win him back. In order to protect herself, she has donned male garb and is masquerading as her twin brother Ricciardo.
Bradamante and Melisso have found their way to Alcina’s kingdom. They encounter Morgana, Alcina’s younger sister, who immediately falls in love with the person she assumes to be the youth Ricciardo. She leads the strangers to Alcina and Ruggiero. Bradamante is pained to see that Ruggiero does not recognise her – indeed, that he seems to have completely forgotten her. The fact that Oronte, Morgana’s lover, also sees Bradamante as a man and hence a potential rival leads to further complications. Oronte would like to rid himself of his rival and maligns him with Ruggiero, whom he tells that Alcina has a new lover and that the man in question is Ricciardo, who has only recently arrived. Jealousy is soon aroused, causing the first rift between Alcina and Ruggiero. In the meantime, Morgana confesses her love for the youth Ricciardo. Bradamante does not know what to do. Abandoned by her husband Ruggiero, she continues to play the male role she has adopted, and allows Morgana to believe that her love is requited.
Melisso, meanwhile, has succeeded in reminding Ruggiero of his former life and of Bradamante. Ruggiero gradually realises that he has given himself up in his love for Alcina, that his love has made him blind, and that he has succumbed to deception. Alcina and her entire realm now appear to him as an illusion. Soon he also recognises Bradamante, and the couple decides to leave Alcina’s kingdom. Alcina also awakens from her illusions: Ruggiero will abandon her to solitude. She is now ready to fight for her love with every means at her disposal. Morgana has also realised that Bradamante is not Ricciardo at all, but Ruggiero’s wife. This process is painful for all the lovers; dreams good and bad are explained; and a new day dawns.
Morgana is reconciled with her former lover Oronte. Both of them are able to look each other in the eye. Alcina, who until now has always wanted to live in the moment, now clings to the illusion of eternal love. She cannot let Ruggiero go, and intends to continue to play her role as the irresistible, invincible queen. Ruggiero finds his way back to his former world, in which the roles of men and women seem clear: a world in which men must be heroes. To prove his heroism, Bradamante expects Ruggiero to destroy Alcina and her kingdom. Once Ruggiero is prepared to do so, Alcina’s empire – the realm of beauty, sensuality, illusion and poetry – falls. But Alcina is a fairy, and fairies cannot die.
The last part of Ariosto’s trilogy, Alcina combines the supernatural powers of Orlando with the sentimental introspection of Ariodante. Ariosto’s magical dimension infuses the entire score, blending all the arts, even if the artifice here is only a reflection of the illusory powers of a magician enslaved by love. If Alcina is the greatest Handelian heroine, it is also because she is a dual character, chasing true love as if it were a chimera, a magician in her own kingdom who turns her lovers into animals for fear of loving. From this point of view, Alcina is indeed Ariodante’s female twin, two opposite forms for the same sentimental introspection. But this time Handel avoids any attempt at deconstruction and ends up painting feelings in the purest opera seria style, restoring the primacy of music over drama. With Alcina, he brought opera into the adult age of modern theatre, opening the way to a new psychology. Not only is Alcina him, the artist who could not, nor knew how to, love or be loved. But it is also the admission, through the end of the spells of the performance, that the opera is no more. Alcina’s last romantic fires are all the more beautiful because they have a taste of ashes, this time truly announcing the end of opera seria in London. A self-portrait of the artist as a fallen diva, like all myths, Alcina is reborn at each performance. What remains one of the most beautiful roles in the female opera repertoire, with its six masterful arias, has never ceased to inspire the greatest divas, such as Cecilia Bartoli. The strength of Christof Loy’s approach is to place the diva and the theatre itself in abyss in order to better serve the myth of what remains without doubt the most secretly intimate work of its composer.
Love makes us vulnerable
Christof Loy, this is your third production of Handel's opera Alcina. Why do you have such a predilection for this work?
It's a bit of fate that I'm asked to direct Alcina so often. To tell the truth, I feel just as attracted to Ariodante and Orlando, the two other works based on Ariosto's epic Orlando furioso that Handel composed in London within three years. It is in these three works, in my opinion, that he was able to bring out the psychological profile of his characters to perfection. The way in which a whole world is revealed to us is particularly moving to me.
What do you mean by that?
Alcina often reminds me of Shakespeare's plays, in which tragic abysses and light-hearted scenes follow one another, but in which the dominant feeling is one of melancholy. The ambiguous atmosphere that reigns there oscillates between the comic and tragic genres. The same applies to Alcina, a magical opera that transports the audience into a fantasy world. The gender confusion found in Shakespearean plays such as Twelfth Night or As You Like It is also used in Alcina. This is a common use in theatre to ask general questions about oneself and others.
Do you see any other links with Shakespeare?
Handel does not express any value judgements about his characters. All the complexity and diversity of life is represented in his theatrical world. The characters are sculpted with such intensity that it is difficult for the audience to take a clear stand. Of course, we inevitably feel attracted to Alcina, we sympathise and identify with her suffering as an abandoned woman, even if we must admit objectively that she would look very bad in court. As for Ruggiero, at the end of the opera we are delighted to see him regain his initial vitality, yet at the same time we are reminded of Alcina's dark fate. In the midst of this whirlwind of emotions and wounds, one cannot distinguish between perpetrators and victims.
Ruggiero, a crusader in Ariosto's work, washes up on the shores of Alcina's kingdom after an adventurous journey.
I recognise a figure close to that of Wilhelm Meister, the hero of Goethe's apprenticeship novel. I see Ruggiero as a young man who refuses to accept reality during his years of apprenticeship: Alcina's enchanting island is an unreal and fickle world in which he loses his virtues and some of his identity. He behaves like a pumpkin in the heart of a chimera. I can well imagine that Ruggiero, a relatively ordinary young man who returns to the ranks at the end of the opera, may later look back with nostalgia on a world less limited than his normalized, rational and moralistic world.
... all the values embodied by Bradamante, Ruggiero's wife.
True. However, Bradamante and her sidekick Melisso, at first strangers to Alcina's kingdom, will also have to question themselves and have the opportunity to broaden their horizons and enrich their experiences. When they arrive, they no longer know who they are, what they are, and are overwhelmed by the beauty of the place. However, both characters gain more and more power in this imaginary world, so much so that, at the end, we have the impression that it is Alcina who no longer finds her place in this universe.
You have described Alcina's island as an unreal and unstable world. What repercussions does this have in terms of staging?
This unreality and the parallels and thematic links with Goethe's Wilhelm Meister led me to choose the form of baroque theatre as a metaphorical representation of Alcina's island kingdom: a world of illusions, a reflection of reality that can be interpreted positively or negatively, depending on the perspective one adopts.
What role does Alcina play in this shimmering illusory world?
Alcina reminds me of the silent film diva Norma Desmond in Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard: she cannot distinguish the border between reality and the scenes she plays. Similarly, Alcina has a habit of faking her feelings in order to manipulate others. Until now, she has never cared about the fate of the men she used to satisfy her lust before letting them down. When she meets Ruggiero, it is she who becomes a victim of her own feelings. As the action unfolds, Alcina discovers that she is, at heart, an extremely vulnerable woman; she finally begins to understand that everything she has created is completely illusory and as fragile as her relationship with Ruggiero.
This bitter experience brings Alcina closer to Mozart's opera Così fan tutte...
I always come back to the same observation: all the characters in the play realise through new encounters that love is not simple, that it makes us vulnerable and that it can lead us to the edge of the abyss. This sense of instability is particularly evident in the second act, in which two couples, Alcina and Ruggiero on the one hand, and Morgana and Bradamante disguised as a man on the other, have to sort out the nature of their relationship. In Così fan tutte, this thread is woven throughout the opera: feelings are constantly being questioned - either out of surprise when the feeling is new, or out of fear of falling truly in love and therefore fear of being hurt. I am repeatedly amazed at how much empathy and understanding Handel must have had for women. It's hard to imagine him being benevolent when you see the portraits of him as a big, lanky man, or if you believe the allegations that he was an angry theatre director. Of course, we have little information about Handel's private life, but I am sure that he was an excellent observer and that he was introspective.
The production of Alcina was marked by the bitter rivalry between Covent Garden and the Opera of the Nobility. However, Handel did not give in to the pressure and ease of composing bravura pieces for effect only. His characters put the sincere portrayal of emotions first.
Handel knew exactly what he wanted to express. Take Alcina, for example: each of her six arias has its own character; at the same time, the pieces as a whole contribute to a finely chiselled portrait of the queen. This way of portraying the characters is completely different from that of more recent times. In Wagner, for example, the characters can be reduced to a single leitmotif. In Verdi's Aida, the main character is portrayed entirely by the orchestra. This may seem paradoxical... but despite the principle of da capo arias and despite the fact that each aria has its own character, the portrayal of the characters is extremely realistic. I myself am convinced that a human being has contradictory character traits.
The same applies to Morgana, Alcina's sister. Her personality is built up through the kaleidoscopic series of arias she sings...
How many contrasts are inscribed in this character! In the first act, Morgana expresses pleasure and joie de vivre. Her aria "Torna mi a vagheggiar" is undoubtedly one of the highlights of this opera, and I am sure that few spectators will be able to stop humming this melody during the interval. The aria "Ama, sospira" in Act II reminds me of someone cautiously and fearfully walking across a frozen lake, taking small steps, lest they break the ice and sink into the icy water at any moment. This process allows us to cautiously probe the situation: where do I stand? Where do others stand? What is happening to me? Later, in the aria "Credete al mio dolore" in Act III, Morgana appears terribly depressed. Fortunately, she does not keep her torment to herself and utters a cry of distress, while Alcina ends up completely alone and withdrawn.
The phrase "Ed al fin trionfa amor" (And love triumphs at last) in the final chorus resonates cynically in this context.
The god Love has always been cruel, as is well known. In other words, everything we have seen has happened because of him...
As far as duration is concerned, Handel's operas differ little from those of Verdi - Don Carlo, for example - or Wagner. When you stage a production, you almost always have to cut out passages. What was your choice?
Deep down I love it when the audience can devote four or five hours to an evening of opera. I still think we should go back to full performances. In Zurich we opted for a version without ballet music. This was a legitimate choice since Handel only inserted these passages at a very late stage and deleted them when the opera was revived. We also dropped the character of Oberto and the lion scene, which Handel had added shortly before the premiere to impress the audience. So we performed the original version, shortened by two arias. If it had been Boris Godunov, it would probably have been called the original version...
But you didn't want to give up the dances...
Not at all. Handel had the beautiful idea of underlining the exuberance of Alcina's world through ballet. I decided to use a part of the overture that contains dance movements to introduce the audience to Alcina's seductive world. It was clear to me that this aspect had to be taken up again in the rest of the action, to make it an integral part.
Would it have been conceivable for you to abandon the allegedly redundant da capo repetition of the arias?
Certainly not. When I listen to old recordings that still use this form, it irritates me deeply and leaves a bitter taste. I would associate this practice more with belcanto arias - a slower part, a cabaletta... Repetition is very important to me: in the case of Alcina, the repetition is indeed surprising in almost every aria. This is partly due to the fact that the central part of the aria is often very short or that musical themes presented in part A are repeated in part B, which is quite unusual. In any case, Handel is extremely modern in these compositional aspects; it would be pointless to try to make him even more modern.
What are the implications of the da capo form for the staging?
It was obviously a big task, and there were many challenges. But I also felt much more motivated in this respect than I would have been with other works, for example, from the period of verism, where everything is predefined, and you have to be careful to avoid duplication. With the da capo structure, one is pushed to invent an exteriorised or interiorised action, and one must always take a stand. Often it will be an intensification or distortion of what happened in part A. Sometimes it is from the outside, sometimes from the inside. Sometimes it's pure action; other times it's a very intimate element that puts the action in the background.
Interview by Kathrin Brunner, 2014
Some words about Monte Carlo Opera...
So far, I sang one concert performance there, and I am very much looking forward to returning to this magnificent theatre. Moreover, I am proud and touched that Cecilia Bartoli called on me to perform with her during the first season of her tenure at Monte Carlo.
And a tip for its new director?
Cecilia gained a huge amount of experience and scores of success in Salzburg, so this makes her fit for this position. My personal wish is for her to take care about voices, and to pay attention to young singers! This is absolutely fundamental, and so difficult today, when few people are willing to give them a chance. I was invited to sing Nerone in Monteverdi’s Poppea at the age of 21 –it was by no means perfect but I learned so many things from being on stage in an important part while working with experienced colleagues.
Haendel operas and Alcina…
I love singing Alcina with Cecilia, even just to stand in the wings and listen to her in her signature role, I think this may be the seventh time! There are in fact not too many leading parts which suit my voice range and character. Two of Handel’s match my temperament: Sesto in Giulio Cesare and Ruggiero in Alcina. Ruggiero has a well-known, raging side and an “orphic” one. The latter can be heard in the famous arias “Mi lusinga il dolce affetto” and “Verdi prati”. It is difficult, however, to make Ruggiero likeable, and I try hard to show why he is actually the only man Alcina ever truly loved. Looking to the future, my interests are going in new directions –more contemporary music, and conducting, amongst others– and I have begun to think about leaving my baroque opera roles behind. Maybe this will turn out a kind of beautiful farewell, let’s see…
What is particular about this Christof Loy production?
It is incredibly beautiful, intelligently devised and moving. In Christof Loy’s reading Alcina herself seems to be blocked in her own world, while people around her all undergo changes. He uses baroque machinery to transit from a lavish theatre production to a late 18th century, Così fan tutte –like setting that gives space to the entangled personal relationships, before letting everything implode into a void. And the third act contains a special challenge for me.Actually, I think I should go to the gym now, in order to get prepared…!
After Orlando and Ariodante, Alcina concludes Ariosto's trilogy by taking as its source a new episode from his Orlando furioso, songs 6 and 7, set to music for the first time by the composer Francesca Faccini in Florence in 1625, under the title La Liberazione di Ruggiero dell'isola d'Alcina. The episode chosen by Handel is as far removed as possible from that of Ariodante: Alcina plunges us into the enchanting atmosphere of the island of a sorceress who attracts men only to transform them into "stones, trees and wild beasts" according to the period argument. Handel had probably discovered it during his last stay in Italy, in Parma in 1729, under the title Bradamante nell'isola d'Alcina. The plot is famous and will have as many titles as lives: Alcina delusa da Ruggiero for Albinoni in 1725, became Gli avvenimenti di Ruggiero d'Alcina in 1732. But it was Antonio Fanzaglia's libretto that he chose to adapt, L'Isola d'Alcina, written for Riccardo Broschi, Farinelli's brother, with whom Handel always refused to work. History does not say whether this was yet another challenge to the star castrato who was then on the rival Haymarket stage, but it is possible. In any case, since Ezio, his hand was solid as the tacit librettist of his own works: he made only a few alterations to the original, drastically reducing the recitatives as usual, retaining an exceptionally large proportion of the arias written for Broschi's original version (24 of 34). Sets changes in full view, enchanted palace, enchanted garden, men turned into rocks, everything is a spectacle. Alcina's fairy-tale atmosphere no doubt made it more immediately appealing than Ariodante's bedroom romances. Its good-natured classicism, dividing about the same number of arias between the three main roles (Alcina, Ruggiero and Morgana) and moving away from the early Baroque aesthetic for a plot that marks the beginnings of operatic psychology, is no doubt not for nothing in the success that the work enjoyed in the 20th century. The magical dimension of Ariosto infuses the entire score through an opera-ballet mixing all the arts (it was one of the specificities of Covent Garden to have a ballet, that of the Frenchwoman Marie Sallé), even if the artifice is here only the reflection of the illusory powers of a magician enslaved by love. If Alcina is the most majestic of Handel's witches, she is also his greatest tragedienne. As Jean Starobinski noted in Les Enchanteresses, "pleasure loves to mirror itself in its own representation" and the spectacle of illusions will eventually consume the true love of a woman vulnerable to its power and charms. From this point of view, Alcina is the female twin of Ariodante, two opposite forms of the same sentimental introspection.
Premiere: 16 April 1735. London, Royal theatre, Covent Garden. Score completed on 8 April 1735, in the middle of five performances of Athalia. The first dress rehearsal took place five days before the premiere, at Handel's house in Brook Street, in the presence of Mary Pendarves. New sets for the premiere. Libretto by Handel, based on Antonio Fansaglia's L'Isola d'Alcina and Ariosto's Orlando furioso.
18 performances in the first season, then two brief revivals on 6 November 1735 for 3 performances (without Carestini and Cecilia Young and with further changes in the cast).
Performance in Brunswick in February 1738 in an arrangement probably by G.C. Schürmann, before a two-century eclipse. Handel included "Semplicetto" in his pasticcio Jupiter in Argos in 1739 and "Mi Lusinga" in his revival of Semele on 1 December 1744.
22 performances in all during Handel's lifetime.
The original cast
Alcina: Anna Strada del Pò. Morgana: Cecilia Young, soprano. Ruggiero: Giovanni Carestini, castrato. Bradamante: Maria Caterina Negri, contralto. Oronte: John Beard, ténor. Melisso: Gustav Waltz, bass. Oberto: Mr William Savage, male soprano.
Alcina, a sorceress
Ruggiero, a knight, engaged to Alcina
Bradamante, Ruggiero's betrothed, disguised as her own brother, the knight Ricciardo
Morgana, sister of Alcina
Oronte, general of Alcina, lover of Morgana
Melisso, the governor of Bradamante
Oberto, a boy searching for his father Astolfo, vanished on the island of Alcina
First modern performance in Leipzig in 1928. True rebirth of Alcina in 1957 thanks to the Handel Opera society’s production, with Joan Sutherland in the title role. La Stupenda then contributed largely to the work’s notoriety with more performances in Cologne, Venice, Dallas or New York sometimes in Franco Zeffirelli's production. After Giulio Cesare, Alcina has become the most performed opera by Handel in the 20th century.
In the midst of his creative fever, Handel was already composing Alcina during rehearsals for his previous opera, Ariodante, in 1734. Unfortunately, the exciting possibilities of the new Covent Garden stage - he had created most of his London operas at the Haymarket King's theatre - had not been enough to stem the public failure of his later works. The shadow of the oratorio - increasingly popular with the English - and the spectre of bankruptcy continued to overshadow his obsession with the opera seria (he composed 39 of them!). The immediate success of Alcina gave him a final respite: it was the only opera to exceed 13 performances after Admeto, his most popular opera since 1727. The revival of the public was coupled with a dithyrambic critical reception. Even Mrs Pendraves, who was not very generous with her compliments for her beloved composer, was unable to say anything strong enough when she left Handel's house in Book Street on the evening of the general performance offered to the happy few just before the premiere: “I think it the best he ever made, (but I have thought so fo so many) I have no words to describe it. Strada has a whole scene of charming recitative, there are a thousand beauties. Whilst Mr. Handel was playing his part, I could not help thinking him a necromancer in the midst of his own enchantments.” ((Mrs Pendraves to her mother Mary Granville, 12 April 1735).
Handel's latest operatic success
Word of mouth spread rapidly around the city and on the day of the premiere the London Daily was quick to fan the flames, announcing that “we hear the new opera will exceed any composition of Mr. Handel’s hitherto performed.” (16 April). But Handel's latest success at the opera house was to be nothing more than a sham: none of the structural problems inherent in the production had been solved, despite the goodwill of John Rich at the helm of the Royal Opera at Covent Garden, nor had the endless whims of the singers... Carestini refused to sing 'Verdi prati', one of the rondos that became one of the great hits of the opera, finding it too simple for him, and ended up leaving for Italy early on 6 July 1735, after the last performance of Alcina, 'tired of singing to empty halls'. As usual, Handel did not give up any of his authority over the singers and Charles Burney even reports the legend that he went to Carestini's house to admonish him: “don't I know better as your seluf, vaat is pest for you to sing? If you vill not sing all de song vaat I give you, I will not pay you ein stiver.” The simple melody won over the audience, and Burney also reports that the aria 'was constantly sung during the performances'. But times had changed: if castrati had once been willing to stay for the glory, as venues had become sparse, the success of a single title was no longer enough to overcome their vexation. This was Carestini's last opera for Handel, although he returned to London in 1739 at the Haymarket.
The Covent Garden ballet and the disgrace of Marie Sallé
When Handel arrived on the Covent Garden stage (after having created most of his operas at the Haymarket King's theatre), he had the benefit of a chorus for the first time. He used it sparingly, remaining faithful to the Italian seria model, in which the soloists form a small ensemble for the lieto finale, the joyful conclusion of every opera. However, from Ariodante onwards he integrated the ballet provided by John Rich, the theatre director who was also a former dancer. The Frenchwoman Marie Sallé - one of the great attractions of the London stage - was in charge. Attesting to the audacity and licentiousness of Alcina for the spectators of her time, she was to have a most daring idea which ended up being fatal: to dance the role of Cupid herself “in male costume”, as the Abbé Prévost, who was in London, recounts in his journal Le Pour et le contre. This cross-dressing of the sexes in the lightest of outfits "was apparently the cause of her disgrace" notes the writer. She was hissed at during the performances and eventually had to leave London and her position due to the extent of the scandal. In revenge, she took part a few weeks later in the first performance of Rameau's Indes Galantes in Paris on 28 August 1735. With no castrato or ballet, despite the new sets hired for the production by John Rich, Handel found himself in the greatest artistic fragility at the end of Alcina's performances. The last magical opera to close the London cycle, Alcina is indeed a theatre of illusions, both literally and figuratively, a final success for the last lights of the emigrated alchemist of Italian opera.
Canto VI (excerpts)
“Pursuing thus our rugged journey, we
Came (such our evil doom) upon the strand,
Where stood a mansion seated by the sea:
Puissant Alcina owned the house and land.
We found her, where, without her dwelling, she
Had taken on the beach her lonely stand;
And though nor hook nor sweeping net she bore,
What fish she willed, at pleasure drew to shore.
“Thither swift dolphins gambol, inly stirred,
And open-mouthed the cumbrous tunnies leap;
Thither the seal or porpus’ wallowing herd
Troop at her bidding, roused from lazy sleep;
Raven-fish, salmon, salpouth, at her word,
And mullet hurry through the briny deep,
With monstrous backs above the water, sail
Ork, physeter, sea-serpent, shark, and whale.
“There we behold a mighty whale, of size
The hugest yet in any water seen:
More than eleven paces, to our eyes,
His back appears above the surface green:
And (for still firm and motionless he lies,
And such the distance his two ends between)
We all are cheated by the floating pile,
And idly take the monster for an isle.
“Alcina made the ready fish obey
By simple words and by mere magic lore:
Born with Morgana -- but I cannot say
If at one birth, or after or before.
As soon as seen, my aspect pleased the fay;
Who showed it in the countenance she wore:
Then wrought with art, and compassed her intent,
To part me from the friends with whom I went.
“She came towards us with a cheerful face,
With graceful gestures, and a courteous air,
And said: ‘So you my lodging please to grace,
Sir cavalier, and will with me repair,
You shall behold the wonders of my chace,
And note the different sorts of fish I snare;
Shaggy or smooth, or clad in scales of light,
And more in number than the stars of night:
“ ‘And would you hear a mermaid sing so sweet,
That the rude sea grows civil at her song,
Wont at this hour her music to repeat,
(With that she showed the monster huge and long
-- I said it seemed an island -- as her seat)
Pass with me where she sings the shoals among.’
I, that was always wilful, at her wish,
I now lament my rashness, climb the fish.
“To Dudon and Rinaldo’s signal blind,
I go, who warn me to misdoubt the fay.
With laughing face Alcina mounts behind,
Leaving the other two beside the bay.
The obedient fish performs the task assigned,
And through the yielding water works his way.
Repentant of my deed, I curse the snare,
Too far from land my folly to repair.
“To aid me swam Mount Alban’s cavalier,
And was nigh drowned amid the waves that rise;
For a south-wind sprang up that, far and near,
Covered with sudden darkness seas and skies.
I know not after what befel the peer:
This while Alcina to console me tries,
And all that day, and night which followed, me
Detained upon that monster in mid-sea,
“Till to this isle we drifted with the morn,
Of which Alcina keeps a mighty share;
By that usurper from a sister torn,
Who was her father’s universal heir:
For that she only was in wedlock born,
And for those other two false sisters were
(So well-instructed in the story, said
One who rehearsed the tale) in incest bred.
“As these are practised in iniquity,
And full of every vice and evil art;
So she, who ever lives in chastity,
Wisely on better things has set her heart.
Hence, leagued against her, in conspiracy,
Those others are, to drive her from her part:
And more than once their armies have o’errun
Her realm, and towns above a hundred won.
“Nor at this hour a single span of ground
Would Logistilla (such her name) command,
But that a mountain here, and there a sound,
Protects the remnant from the invading band.
Tis thus the mountain and the river bound
England, and part it from the Scottish land.
Yet will the sisters give their foe no rest,
Till of her scanty remnant dispossest.
“Because in wickedness and vice were bred
The pair, as chaste and good they loath the dame.
But, to return to what I lately said,
And to relate how I a plant became;
Me, full of love, the kind Alcina fed
With full delights; nor I a weaker flame
For her, within my burning heart did bear,
Beholding her so courteous and so fair.
“Clasped in her dainty limbs, and lapt in pleasure,
I weened that I each separate good had won,
Which to mankind is dealt in different measure,
Little or more to some, and much to none.
I evermore contemplated my treasure,
Nor France nor aught beside I thought upon:
In her my every fancy, every hope
Centered and ended as their common scope.
“By her I was as much beloved, or more;
Nor did Alcina now for other care;
She left her every lover; for before,
Others, in truth, the fairy’s love did share:
I was her close adviser evermore;
And served by her, where they commanded were.
With me she counselled, and to me referred;
Nor, night nor day, to other spake a word.
Translated by William Stewart Rose (1823)