opera seria by George Frideric Handel

Alcina is an opera seria with music by George Frideric Handel. The libretto was written by Riccardo Broschi. The opera is based on an episode in Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando furioso, an epic poem set in the time of Charlemagne's wars against Islam. Handel composed several little ballets in the opera for the famous dancer Marie Sallé.

by George Frideric Handel
Handel in 1733
GenreOpera seria
LibrettistRiccardo Broschi
PremiereCovent Garden
London, England
16 April 1735

Alcina was first performed on 16 April 1735 at Covent Garden in London. It was revived in Germany in 1738. It was not performed again until 1928.

Joan Sutherland sang the role for her debut in Venice in 1960. She sang it again the same year in Dallas. She sang it at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in 1962. Renée Fleming sang the role in Chicago in 1999.



Alcina is a sorceress. She changes people into stones, trees, and animals. Bradamente lands on Alcina's island looking for her fiancé Ruggiero. He has been enchanted by Alcina. He is in love with her.

Bradamente has a magic ring that allows her to break spells. She intends to use it to free Alcina's victims. She lets Ruggiero wear it. He sees at once that Alcina is a cruel enchantress and that her island is a desert.

Alcina is truly in love with Ruggiero. Her magic powers slip away. Bradamente and Ruggiero destroy an urn that is the source of Alcina's power. Alcina's world disappears. Her victims become humans again.


  • Dean, Winton (2006), Handel's Operas, 1726-1741, Boydell Press, ISBN 1-84383-268-2 (The second of the two volume definitive reference on the operas of Handel)

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