The indisputable protagonist of Alcina is the exquisite music—in rapid succession and staggering quantity—written by Handel in 1735. Pierre Audi knows it; he strips the stage of ornament and artifice, allowing the singers to incarnate the actions and emotions described in the score. Mathew Richardson's subtle, precise lighting spotlights the period costumes, dressing the work up in 18th-century artistic splendor.
Beautiful sorceress Alcina reigns on her isle, bewitching all the men she desires and transforming them into animals or objects when she tires of them. Bradamante, fiancée of Ruggiero—Alcina's most recent victim—comes to rescue her beloved. But Alcina's sister Morgana, mistaking Bradamente for a man, falls in love with her, complicating her rescue plans...
With moving performances as actresses and singers of the highest level, Sandrine Piau, Maite Beaumont, Angélique Noldus, and Sabina Puértolas embody the wide emotional range of the work—anger and jealousy, terror and courage, love and compassion—amid the glorious soundtrack, conducted by the committed Christophe Rousset at the helm of his period instrument orchestra, Les Talens Lyriques.
Pierre Audi (stage director), Christophe Rousset (conductor) — With Christophe Dumaux (Tamerlano), Jeremy Ovenden (Bajazete), Sophie Karthäuser (Asteria)
Adrian Noble, Marc Minkowski – Anja Harteros (Alcina), Veronica Cangemi (Morgana), Vesselina Kasarova (Ruggiero)... – Wiener Staatsoper