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The plot of Alcina, one Handel's most popular and inspired operas, came from the epic poem Orlando furioso by Ludovico Ariosto. Il caro Sassone ("The dear Saxon", as the composer was nicknamed) filled it with fantasy and fine melodies to produce a highly polished work that ranks alongside Orlando and Ariodante.

First performed at London's Covent Garden in 1735, it tells a tale full of Homeric overtones about the splendidly portrayed sorceress Alcina who lures heroes to her island to seduce them and make them forget their homelands. Bradamante's struggle to liberate Ruggiero from her still captivates us today. Alcina abounds in some of the most beautiful pages Handel ever wrote and the cast for the first night in England included such stars as Carestini and Negri.

Are the witch's feelings for Ruggiero mere perversion or unbridled passion? Handel in his genius made Alcina one of the most complete and well characterized soprano roles in opera, going beyond her supernatural dimension to portray her as a deeply human, moving woman who suffers. The vanquished sorceress acquires new psychological depth in each successive aria and inspires us with a strange compassion.

Alcina, a mirage-like drama of love and passion, seems tailor-made to encourage vocal fireworks and develop the characters' personalities.

The French conductor Marc Minkowski is a renowned specialist of Handel with a flair for bringing out every shade of colour, however subtle or ambiguous. His will be an ambitious reading of the work which blends feelings, magic and treachery with a spark of humour. Thanks to the outstanding array of soloists and his own ensemble, Les Musiciens du Louvre, Minkowski will reveal the hidden emotions and desires with all the expressiveness Handel wished for. “Tornami a vagheggiar.” (Come back to charm me.)

With the support of:

Opera in three acts
Libretto by Antonio Marchi based in Ludovico Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso
World premiere: 16/4/1735 at the Royal Opera House in London
Barcelona premiere: 9/6/1943 at the Teatre Tívoli
Liceu premiere: 21/3/1999 at the Teatre Nacional de Catalunya (Liceu season)
Last Liceu performance: 21/3/1999
Total number of Liceu performances: 6 

  • Approximate running time 3h 50m

Artistic profile


ALCINAMagdalena Kožená
MORGANAErin Morley
BRADAMANTEElizabeth DeShong
RUGGIEROAnna Bonitatibus
ORONTEValerio Contaldo
Les Musiciens du Louvre
Marc Minkowski

February 2023

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