La Liberazione di Ruggiero dall’isola d’Alcina, practically unknown opera, performed at the Salon d’Hercule in the Chateau de Versailles



Francesca Caccini (1587-1640)
La Liberazione di Ruggiero dall’Isola d’Alcina

Balletto con prologo e tre scene, Florence, 1625

Florence, beginning of February 1625. The Medici court is preparing grandiose celebrations to celebrate the official visit of the heir to the throne of Poland, Wladyslaw.

The crowning event of his visit is a performance of the “commedia in musica”: La Liberazione di Ruggiero dall’isola d’Alcina, an opera commissioned for this occasion by the grand-duchess of Tuscany, Maria Maddalena of Austria, widow of Cosimo da Medici (1590-1621). Ferdinando Saracinelli, superintendent of the Medici court is the author of the libretto of this “Balletto” (as it is called on the first page of the edition). The court composer Francesca Caccini, the first opera composer in history, wrote the music. The work so impressed the Polish Prince that it was also performed in Poland.


Liberazione_partThe wonderful score mixes penetrating recitatives with varied accompaniment, musical arias where one senses the subtle feminine touch, chorus interventions (canzonetta and madrigals) to represent court ladies, demons, enchanted trees, freed knights and sinfonias, colorful ritornelli and instrument interludes.

This practically unknown opera marks in fact an important stage in Italian music of the first half of the 17th century: the Salon d’Hercule will be an ideal setting for its revival by the inspired Paul Van Nevel.

Huelgas Ensemble – Paul Van Nevel


alcinaAchim Schulz, Ruggiero

Michaela Riener, Alcina

Sabine Lutzenberger, Melissa

Matthew Vine, Nettuno

Bernd Oliver Fröhlich, Vistola Fiume / Pastore

Dorothea Jacob, Sirena

Axelle Bernage, Nunzia

Matthew Vine, Astolfo


Huelgas Ensemble

Paul Van Nevel, conductor

Paul Van Nevel, Conductor

Paul Van Nevel, Conductor


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