Alcina rediviva. Transformations of an Enchantress in Early Librettos

Dag Hedman


The aim of this study is to follow the transformations in eighteen librettos of the enchantress Alcina from Ludovico Ariosto’s popular chivalric epic Orlando furioso (1516–1532).The librettos used were printed in Austria, France, Great Britain and Italy 1609–1782.The texts encompass different genres like ballets, drami/drammi per musica and feste teatrali. There are several reasons for the popularity of Alcina in the theatre of the Baroque Age, among which are her contrasting moods and the possibility of spectacular scenic effects due to the frequent occurrence of magic. The study shows that whereas there is an impressive variety in the librettists’ approach to Alcina’s personality and the plots in which she is involved, there is no clear development of the topic.

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