Alcina at Gothenburg Opera – synopsis
Composer and librettist
Music: Georg Friedrich Händel. Lyrics: A. Marchi efter Ariosos Orlando furioso.
Worldpremiere: London, Covent Garden 16 april 1735. Swedish premiere: Stockholm, Operan 14 april 1959. Seen the performance at Opera house, GöteborgsOperan in Gothenburg
Ruggiero is betrothed to Bradamante, but has been drawn into the magical world of the irresistible Alcina. Alcina lives in that world with Morgana (her sister) and Oronte (Alcinas chief guard), who are lovers. Alcina entices men to her, and when she tires of them transforms them to beasts. Ruggiero has fallen prey to her enchantment and abandoned Bradamante. Bradamante has decided to win him back, and has arrivwd at the palace of Alcina, accompanied by Melisso, her former tutor, in order to accomplish her plan she has disguised herself as her own brother Ricciardo.
Ricciardo/Bradamante and Melisso arrive and are received by Morgana, who falls instant in love with “Ricciardo”. Morgana invites them into the palace, and Bradamante has to hold back her wrath when she sees Ruggiero in the arms of Alcina. Ruggiero is merely annoyed to find Bradamantes brother present, and declares his love for Alcina. Oronte, too, is upset since Morgana now only has eyes for “Ricciardo”. In revenge, he deceives Ruggiero into believing that Alcina has forgotten him, and nows loves “Ricciardo”. In a fit of jealousy, Ruggiero confronts Alcina. Alcina reacts with incomprehension, and strives to placate him, insisting she still loves him. Ruggiero and “Ricciardo” are now rivals.”Ricciardo” comes close to revealing his/her real identity to Ruggiero, but is presented by Melisso. Morgana enters to warn “Ricciardo” that Alcina is about to prove to Ruggiero that he has is no reason to be jealous by turning “Ricciardo” into a beast. To keep this from happening, “Ricciardo” commands .Morgana to go to Alcina and tell her that, contrary to rumour, he loves not Alcina but another. When Morgana wonders who that other might be, “Riccardo” answers that it is she.Morgana is overjoyed because her love is reciprocated.
Ruggiero pining for Alcina, is visited by by Melisso, who has transformed himself or the time being into Ruggiero´s former mentor. Meliso tells him off for devoting himself too much to pleasure and for neglecting his duties and his fiancée. He gives him a magic ring that enables him to see through illusion – suddenly he can see reality as it is. He remeembers Bradamante and his love for her. Now Melisso has taken back his own shape, and encourages him to go on pretending to love Alcina, and to ask to be allowed to go out hunting, in order to escape. “Ricciardo” comes to see Ruggiero, breaks his disguise and reveals his ral self: he is actually Bradamante, Ruggieros betrothed. Rugiero fears that this is just another illusion of Alcina´s, and Bradamante is in despair. Alcina is about to transform “Ricciardo” into a beast, but is prevented by Mrgana, along with Ruggiero, who says he has seen proof enough of Alcina´s love. Morgan explains that “Ricciardo” actually loves her not Alcina. Ruggiero asks Alcina for permission to go hunting. She suspects that he has changed, but grants him permission to go. He leaves with Bradamante, but immediately Oronte enters and tells Alcina of Ruggieros plans to escape,taking with him all the other men she has enchanted and transformed. Alcina is devastated. Her love for Ruggiero proves to he far deeper and more enduring than her feelings about other men. Oronte taunts Morgana that her lover, “Ricciardo” is abondoning her, but she refuses to believe him. Ruggiero has finally realized that the person standing before him is truly his beloved Bradamante, and he begs her to forgive him. They prepare their escape, but their plans are disclosed by Morgana, who figures out that they are lovers. Alcina tries unseccessfully to call up her magic powers. To her dismay, she fails.
Morgana begs Oronte for forgiveness, insisting hat she has alwaws loved him, but he rebuffs her, and is not easily reclaimed. Yet he admits to himself that he still loves her. Ruggiero tells Alcina that his love for her hass died, and that he intends to return to his betrothed, Bradamante. Alcina vacillates between vindictiveness and love. Ruggiero steals himself, and Bradamante is delighted that Ruggiero has returned to her. Alcina realizes, with grief, that her powers are gone. In a final confrontation between the three, Alcina uses both threats and tempations to entice Ruggiero back to her, but to no avail. Ruggiero also intends to release all the men Alcina has bewitched. He crushes her power in one fell swoop. Alcina vanishes and all the others rejoice over their newly- won liberty. The question is how long it will last….