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Introducing… Alcina

In this instalment of our Introducing series we get under the skin of Handel’s exuberant magical fantasy, Alcina.

In this instalment of our Introducing series we get under the skin of Handel’s exuberant magical fantasy, Alcina.

In the video below, Alexandra Coghlan explores the opera in depth, with a look at one of Handel’s most complex and compelling heroines, and meets director Francesco Micheli to hear about his vision for the piece. Plus our former Music Librarian Ian Julier tells us more about Glyndebourne’s history of Handel stagings.


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?

Watch the video to hear more from Alexandra about the history of the opera, and what it is that makes the opera’s titular anti-heroine so appealing to contemporary audiences.

Why not to miss this production

Glyndebourne is known for its bold and inventive Handel productions, and this season we’ll be adding to those with our first-ever production of Alcina.

Director Francesco Micheli and his design team – Edoardo Sanchi (Set Design) and Alessio Rosati (Costume Design) – all make their Glyndebourne debuts with what promises to be a 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.

In the video above Alexandra takes an in-depth look at this key scene in the opera.

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.

Below you can watch Samantha Hankey’s winning performance of ‘Parto, ma tu ben mio’ from La clemenza di Tito.



Supported by
Supported by Dunard Fund & Miss Myriam Trevaux Charitable Trust with a Syndicate of individuals

Bring world-class opera to the stage in Festival 2022

Alcina is available for Production Syndicate support
Contact our Director of Development, Helen McCarthy – helen.mccarthy@glyndebourne.com


Illustration © Katie Ponder

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