One of the finest operas of the 18th century in a concert version

With more than a dozen operas, Haydn, one of the fundamental composers in the history of music, has been practically absent from the programming of opera houses. In this case, Giovanni Antonini, who is recording the complete works of Haydn, will immerse us in Orlando paladino, an opera in three acts, which was the composer’s most important operatic success.

Sometimes missteps lead to masterpieces. When Grand Duke Paul of Russia and his wife announce their arrival at the palace of Esterháza, Prince Esterházy commissions an opera from his official composer, Franz Joseph Haydn, to lavishly welcome their guests. But the princely couple decided on a different itinerary. 

This semi-parody is based on Ariosto’s epic poem Orlando furioso, which also shaped the eponymous score by Lully (Roland), Vivaldi (Orlando furioso) and Händel (Alcina). The plot of dramma eroicomico centres on a noble couple – Angelica, Queen of Cathay, and her lover Medoro – who flee to a remote castle to escape Orlando, Paladin of France, who is madly in love with Angelica. Angelica asks the magician Alcina for help.  

As might be expected, the music to unify the dramatic action of epic adventure and love games is inspired, clear, witty, robust and always inventive; its mixture of chivalrous, supernatural elements combined with the farce itself anticipates Mozart’s own Don Giovanni. 

Haydn merges pathos and irony, sincere sentiment with parody, heroes with cowardice and madness with calm, thus confusing listeners, who can no longer distinguish the good guys from the bad. A miracle that makes Orlando paladino one of the finest operas of the 18th century. 

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Orlando paladino

Libretto by Nunziato Porta based on Carlo Francesco Badini’s libretto Le pazzie d’Orlando, inspired by Ludovico Ariosto’s epic poem Orlando Furioso.
World premiere: 6/12/1782 at the Palace Theatre of Eszterháza (Hungary). 
Liceu premiere 

  • Approximate running time 3h
    • First part 1h 20min
    • Interval 30min
    • Second part 1h 20min


Il Giardino Armonico
Giovanni Antonini

October 2023

Turn T


Here you can download the programme for free. Catalan or Spanish edition, only.

La prèvia

La prèvia és un podcast del Gran Teatre del Liceu. En aquest capítol parlem d'Orlando Paladino de Haydn, produït per La máquina de la luz i amb guió de Javier Blánquez