We explore Francesco Micheli's five star production of Handel's Alcina. Subscribers can watch now on Glyndebourne Encore.
September’s Opera of the Month on Glyndebourne Encore is Francesco Micheli’s new production of Alcina – coming straight from Festival 2022.
Over on Glyndebourne Encore, subscribers can watch Alcina in full, and enjoy an exclusive introduction from opera specialist Alexandra Coghlan who talks to Director Francesco Micheli, Costume Designer Alessio Rosati and Costume Supervisor Diane Williams to explore the opera.
A brief introduction
This is an opera full of spectacle and sensation, but it’s also one of Handel’s most probing psychological studies – a portrait of a woman whose power can get her anything she wants, except for love.
Sorceress Alcina and her sister Morgana live on an enchanted island where nothing is quite as it seems. What appears to be a verdant paradise is, in fact, a barren desert, transfigured by their magic; what look like streams, animals, rocks are in fact Alcina’s former lovers, discarded and bewitched.
But Ruggiero is different. Alcina has really fallen for the handsome knight. Can love perform the ultimate enchantment and transform Alcina herself? Or, faced with her lover’s desertion, will she once again choose vengeance and violence?
Join coloratura soprano Jane Archibald (Alcina) for a glimpse into our production of Handel’s Alcina.
Why not to miss this production
Glyndebourne is known for its bold and inventive Handel productions.
Director Francesco Micheli and his design team – Edoardo Sanchi (Set Design) and Alessio Rosati (Costume Design) – all made their Glyndebourne debuts with this visually spectacular production. Drawing on Italian history they put a contemporary spin on a classic Handel opera.
A great moment to look out for
Alcina’s aria ‘Ah! Mio Cor’ is a pivotal moment in the opera. Understanding that she has been deceived and betrayed by her beloved Ruggiero, Alcina goes from all-powerful witch to vulnerable woman.
A pulsing rhythm in the strings suggest a heartbeat, over which Alcina’s melody line feels almost like a wail – there’s an ululating quality to it that belies the rhythmic order and control. In the central section, this breaks out into musical ferocity as grief turns to vengeance and rage.
Cast and creative team
The cast is led by Jane Archibald as Alcina. Samantha Hankey, winner of the 2018 Glyndebourne Opera Cup plays the knight Ruggiero and Beth Taylor is his faithful fiance Bradamante. Jonathan Cohen conducts. Watch Samantha Hankey’s winning Glyndebourne Opera Cup performance in the video below.
Image credits: Alcina, Festival 2022, photos by Tristram Kenton