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.
The 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
CAST AND CREATIVE TEAM