Summer ramblings on l’isola d’Alcina
You know how sometimes you must listen to a certain aria or else? I came across this gorgeous rendition of Ma quando tornerai:
I think Auger is my favourite Alcina. I love how woo-hoo-yay! the threatening first verse is. And then she gets dark and expressive in the second one, where Alcina is pleading with Ruggiero to return to her. Gotta love 2-mood Baroque arias.
But actually the aria I had to have or else was Semplicetto, a donna credi:
Giustiniani sounds lovely but how about that orchestra? I love the odd touches of humour in this opera. I mean I’ve never quite got the tigress simile in Sta nell’Ircana1 and Di te mi rido is just weird (mostly in a good way, the ha-ha-ha-has are great but Ruggiero is sarcastic rather than amused, so it’s not funny haha…).
Moving on, a bit of Bradamante:
I’ve always wondered why Handel wrote Bradamante’s part lower than Ruggiero’s. Maybe he was short one quality musico. But it’s not a trouser role. I’ve confused myself now. Was the term contralto even used in the 1730s? Or did they just employ sopranos with good chest notes? Anyway, Bradamante’s a busy woman, ain’t she? Especially in a wooly coat 😉
The heroic knight Ruggiero is destined to a short but glorious life, and a benevolent magician is always whisking him away from the arms of his fiancée, Bradamante. Bradamante is not the type to put up with the constant disappearance of her lover, and she spends vast portions of the poem in full armor chasing after him. Just before the opera begins she has rescued him from an enchanted castle, only to have her hippogriff take a fancy to Ruggiero and fly off with him.
That’s one naughty hippogriff. Are we sure the benevolent magician has not fed him enchanted oats?
- Maybe I’m just too hung up on the apparent randomness of mentioning a tigress, like I used to be on all the boats being pushed this or that way in the storm-referencing arias ;-) ↩