George Frideric Handel • January 25, 28, 31; February 2, 2020
Alcina is a baroque masterpiece by George Frederic Handel. The title character, Alcina, is a malicious sorceress who lives on an enchanted island with her sister Morgana. She uses her magic spells to trick men into falling in love with her. But once she tires of them, she turns them into animals or inanimate objects.
Alcina’s current crush is Ruggiero, a chivalrous knight she has captured. Ruggiero’s fiancé Bradamante and her tutor Melisso arrive to bring Ruggiero home. But Alcina and Morgana have no intention of letting him leave, setting the stage for a climactic showdown. Will Ruggiero regain his senses in time? Will Alcina’s evil spell finally be broken?
All performances will be in the cozy confines of Pittsburgh CAPA Theater, 111 9th St, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, which is ideally suited for baroque performances.
Pittsburgh Opera is pleased to partner with Chatham Baroque for Alcina. Founded in 1990, Chatham Baroque continues to excite local, national and international audiences with dazzling technique and lively interpretations of 17th- and 18th- century music played on authentic instruments of the period.
The Artistic Team
Conductor - Antony Walker
Stage Director - Matthew Haney*
Set Designer - Sarah Boyle
Costume Designer - Jason Bray
Lighting Designer - Nate Wheatley
Wig Master - Nicole Pagano
Stage Manager - Cindy Knight
Asst Lighting Desiginer / Master Electrician - TBA
Asst Stage Manager - JinAh Lee
+ Pittsburgh Opera debut
* Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist
** Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist alumni
Listen to Pittsburgh Opera General Director Christopher Hahn give a brief synopsis of Alcina featuring excerpts from this 1959 Deutsche Grammophon recording with Ferdinand Lietner conducting the Cappella Coloniensis:
Click play below or download these excerpts for an offline treat!
- "Overture: Grave" - performed by the Cappella Coloniensis
- “Di’ Cor Mio, Quanto T’Amai” - sung by Joan Sutherland as Alcina
- "Simplicetto! A donna credi?" - sung by Nicola Monti as Oronte
- “Tornami A Vagheggiar” - sung by Joan Sutherland as Alcina
- "Vorrei Vendicarmi Del Perfido Cor” - sung by Norma Procter as Bradamante
- "Mio Bel Tesoro" - sung by Fritz Wunderlich as Ruggiero
- "Mi Restano Le Lagrime" - sung by Joan Sutherland as Alcina
- "Dopo Tante Amare Pene" - sung by the choristers of the Cologne Radio Chorus, under the direction of Chorus Master Bernhard Zimmerman
ACT I, Scene 1. A deserted spot surrounded by hills. Bradamante, disguised as her brother Ricciardo, and her tutor Melisso have been ship-wrecked and cast ashore while searching for her lover Ruggiero. They meet Morgana, Alcina's sister, who falls in love with the disguised Bradamante and promises to take them to Alcina. With a clap of thunder, the hills part, and Alcina is revealed, surrounded by her court, including Ruggiero. She receives the travellers graciously and tells Ruggiero to show them the sights of the island. Bradamante confronts Ruggiero, who recognises her as Ricciardo but denies any interest in Ricciardo's sister - he is the faithful lover of Alcina. He runs off to find her. Oronte, Alcina's commander-in-chief, rightly suspecting the constancy of Morgana, whom he loves, charges Bradamante with having stolen Morgana's love. Morgana defends Bradamante and insults Oronte. Bradamante tries to calm their mutual recriminations.
ACT II, Scene 2. Oronte, coming upon Ruggiero who is sighing for the absent Alcina, decides to alleviate his own jealousy by making Ruggiero jealous too, and concocts a tale that Alcina now loves "Ricciardo" and will no doubt soon add Ruggiero to her collection of discarded and transformed lovers. Ruggiero believes him and heaps reproaches on the puzzled Alcina, who assures him that her feelings are unchanged. Bradamante accuses Ruggiero of disloyalty, but he retaliates with defiance, accusing her, as Ricciardo, of having stolen Alcina's love. Bradamante discloses her identity, but Melisso, worried that Ruggiero is not yet ready for this information, convinces him that she is not really Bradamante. Morgana warns Bradamante that Ruggiero has persuaded Alcina to change her into a wild beast, so Bradamante tells Morgana to assure Ruggiero that she does not love Alcina, but another. Morgana departs happily, thinking she is that other. Alcina laments Ruggiero's jealousy, hoping that their love will soon be as untroubled as before.
ACT II, Scene 1. Melisso, disguised as Ruggiero's tutor Atlante, reproaches him with having abandoned the path of glory and gives him a magic ring which brings him to his senses. Ruggiero regrets his faithlessness to Bradamante and wishes to send a message of defiance to Alcina, but Melisso advises him to pretend that he still loves her and make his escape on the pretext of going hunting. Bradamante again reveals her identity, only to have Ruggiero reject this revelation as another of Alcina's deceptions.
ACT II, Scene 2. Alcina is preparing to change Ricciardo into a wild beast to appease Ruggiero, while Morgana tries to dissuade her and Ruggiero assures her that he is no longer jealous, so drastic measures are no longer necessary. Alcina notices that Ruggiero is not in his usual spirits and he suggests a hunt as a restorative. She consents and he departs. Oronte brings the news that Ruggiero is planning to flee, and Alcina prepares to foil this plan. Oronte tells Morgana that her new love is about to leave her, but she refuses to believe this and departs scornfully, leaving him to lament her power over him. Ruggiero is at last convinced that Bradamante is really herself. Morgana discovers them embracing, and, apparently taking in her stride the revelation that Bradamante is a woman, reproaches her with being a faithless guest and Ruggiero with betraying Alcina. Ruggiero looks forward to the ending of the enchantments.
ACT II, Scene 3. Alcina begins to make spells to bind Ruggiero to her, but loses heart and casts her wand aside.
ACT III, Scene 1. Morgana tries to ingratiate herself with Oronte, who pretends indifference, but has to admit to himself that he still loves her. Alcina upbraids Ruggiero for trying to leave her. He tells her that his betrothed Bradamante now has his love, and she threatens vengeance, though unable to obliterate her tender feelings for him. Bradamante and Melisso join Ruggiero to plan their campaign. Melisso tells them that the island is surrounded by Alcina's enchanted monsters and advises Ruggiero to take the Gorgonian shield and the winged horse (items not previously mentioned) to help him in the fray. Although worried at leaving his beloved, Ruggiero sets off, followed by Melisso and Bradamante, who vows to free those lying under enchantment. Oronte announces to Alcina the complete defeat of her forces and she laments her cruel fate.
ACT III, Scene 2. Ruggiero and Bradmante confront Alcina, each advising the other not to be taken in by her deceptions. She tries both pleading and threats in vain. Ruggiero returns the defeated Oronte's sword and then smashes the urn which holds Alcina's secret power. All her spells are broken, and the rocks, trees and animals resume their human shapes. They rejoice at their liberty and all celebrate the triumph of love.
- Adapted from opera-arias.com
We want you to have the best experience possible at our performances!
- Run time: To be confirmed
- Understand Every Word: Alcina is sung in Italian, but has English supertitles projected above the stage at all performances
- Parking Downtown: get real-time parking availability
- Pre-Opera Talks before each performance
- Audio Description available
- Braille Programs available
- Large-Print Programs available