Composer George Frideric Handel
Librettist Riccardo Broschi, after Ludovico Ariosto; translated by Ivey Barr
Language Sung in Italian with projected English subtitles and English recitatives
Dates April 19-21, 2019
About the production The detective Bradamante is out to rescue her partner Ruggiero, but he's forgotten all about her. At Alcina's hidden speakeasy, it's hard to tell what's real, and men have a way of not coming back: when Alcina is bored of her lovers, she transforms them into bottles and trinkets. Ruggiero is her latest victim, but for once, the spider may have fallen for the fly... and be ready to fight to keep him. Just to complicate matters, Alcina's sister Morgana falls for Bradamante (who is undercover as "Ricciardo"), so Morgana's boyfriend Oronte is out for Bradamante's blood. Can Bradamante and her companion, the policeman Melisso, expose the sisters' operation and free Ruggiero, or will Alcina keep her lover, her realm, and her magic?
Lauren C. Barr
Act I Private eye Bradamante and police chief Melisso, searching for Bradamante’s partner Ruggiero, crash in a storm and take shelter in a nearby club. Morgana arrives to greet the new guests and is immediately smitten with Bradamante, who is undercover and using her brother Ricciardo’s name. Alcina appears with Ruggiero in tow, and leaves him to entertain the guests. Oberto discovers the newcomers, and asks if they have any idea where his father Astolfo might be. Bradamante recognizes the name, and wonders if Astolfo might be one of Alcina’s earlier victims. Once alone, Bradamante tries to snap Ruggiero out of his enchanted amnesia, but he only laughs at her.
The gangster Oronte shows up in a fury and tries to start a fight with Bradamante for stealing Morgana’s affection – but Morgana rushes in and separates them, declaring to Oronte that he has no claim to her and she can love who she likes. Bradamante sympathizes with Oronte’s jealousy and Morgana’s love, longing to have Ruggiero back at her side.
Spurned by Morgana and unable to fight Bradamante, Oronte turns on Ruggiero instead and reveals Alcina’s secret: whenever she gets bored of her latest lover, she transforms him into one of the bottles behind the bar! Ruggiero wants to trust Alcina, but when Oronte suggests that her affection has turned to the newcomer “Ricciardo”, Ruggiero is outraged and lashes out at Alcina. Alcina is only amused, and reassures him of her love.
Bradamante tries to break through to Ruggiero by revealing her true identity, but Melisso stops her. Morgana arrives in a panic, urging Bradamante to escape – to prove her loyalty to Ruggiero, Alcina plans to transform her supposed rival “Ricciardo”. Bradamante declares in frustration that she could never love Alcina, as she loves someone else entirely. Morgana asks if that someone might be her, and Bradamante seizes the opening and says yes, it is Morgana she loves. Delighted, Morgana hurries to tell Alcina to spare Morgana’s new lover.
Act II Melisso surprises Ruggiero and uses a magic potion to lift Alcina’s spells. Melisso reminds Ruggiero of his past, his work, and his beloved Bradamante, and instructs him to play along with Alcina until Ruggiero can find his gun and escape with Melisso and Bradamante. Ruggiero agrees, but is startled to see Bradamante again. He reasons that she must be a new enchantment of Alcina’s, meant to trick him, and Bradamante loses her temper. Confronted with her familiar fire, Ruggiero wavers and tries to decide whether he can believe her.
Ruggiero and Morgana arrive at Alcina’s side as she prepares the spell to transform Bradamante. Morgana pleads for Bradamante’s freedom, and Ruggiero reassures Alcina that he is no longer jealous of “Ricciardo”. Alcina calls off the spell, but is unsettled by the look in Ruggiero’s eyes and questions him. Ruggiero evades her questions, and she agrees to let him practice with his old pistol. Oberto wanders in, still seeking his father, and Alcina unsuccessfully attempts to distract herself by entertaining the boy.
Ruggiero is reunited with Bradamante and apologizes, but Morgana overhears them and realizes they are planning to expose Alcina’s whole operation. Furious, she runs to reveal their plans to Alcina. Ruggiero, although glad to be freed from Alcina’s magic, quietly laments the loss of all the beauty it held.
Alone, Alcina, betrayed and desperate, summons every spirit under her power to defend her realm… but nothing answers her incantations.
Act III Oronte throws Morgana’s claims of freedom back in her face as she attempts to reconcile with him, but cannot keep himself from taking her back. Alcina finds Ruggiero and makes a last effort to regain his love or threaten him into staying, but her fantasies shatter in the face of reality. Bradamante sets out to rescue Alcina’s other victims and, with her encouragement, Ruggiero regains his old confidence. Bradamante and Ruggiero stand together against Alcina’s threats and pleas, and break the source of her power. All the spells are immediately broken, and everyone is freed from Alcina’s magic.