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Ex-RSC director, Adrian Noble, sets his Alcina in the Piccadilly salon of the Duchess of Devonshire, who is leading her aristocratic friends and family in a private performance of the opera. This is a canny framing device for a work that, like Orlando and Ariodante, plays with notions of illusion and reality. It also allows Noble to create a charming yet practical eighteenth century mise-en-scène, although he does permit himself the occasional moment of surreal spectacle, such as the arrival of a hot-air balloon, or the stars falling from the sky. Anja Harteros is a langourous Alcina (more duchess than sorceress, perhaps) and Vesselina Kasarova’s Ruggiero has a twitchy stage manner, but they both sing exquisitely, as do the rest of the cast, and Les Musiciens, under the expert guidance of Marc Minkowski, bring out the subtle colours of Handel’s enchanting score. Recorded live at the Wiener Staatsoper in 2011, this Alcina is a genuinely magical experience.

Graham Lock Read the full review on Agora Classica


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Early Music Today, 2011 - ©Rhinegold Publishing