Opera Scotland

Orlando furioso Orlando in Madness

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Antonio Vivaldi (born Venice, 4 March1678; died Vienna, 27 or 28 July 1741).


Grazio Braccioli


Epic poem Orlando furioso (1516) by Ludovico Ariosto (1474-1535).



First performance: Venice (Teatro Sant' Angelo), Autumn 1727.

First performance in UK: To be confirmed.

First performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (Usher Hall), 12 August 2007 (concert).

Scottish Opera premiere: N/A.



Handel found enough material in this part of Ariosto's masterpiece to provide libretti for two of his greatest operas, in Orlando and Alcina. For a single work, as Vivaldi set it, there is a lot going on. This 1727 opera was Vivaldi's second setting of the story, and it has been accepted as one of his greatest operas, though it might be argued that it was simply one of the first to be revived in modern times.  It was originally referred to simply as Orlando, and it may be that the longer title has been attached to it simply to distinguish it from Handel's better-known work.



Orlando, a paladin (contralto)

Ruggiero, a knight (mezzo-soprano)

Alcina, an enchantress in love with Ruggiero (mezzo-soprano)

Bradamante, a young lady, disguised as her brother, Ricciardo (mezzo-soprano)

Angelica, a princess of Cathay, in love with Medoro (soprano)

Medoro, an African prince, in love with Angelica (mezzo-soprano)

Astolfo, Orlando's companion (bass)


Plot Summary

Angelica, in a bid to escape Orlando's attentions, flees to Alcina's island for protection. Alcina offers to help, and already love's Orlando's friend Astolfo herself. Bradamante is determined to use her magic ring to save Ruggiero from his infatuation with Alcina. Angelica's true love, Medoro, is wounded, then shipwrecked on the island. Alcina is herself captivated by the newly arrived Ruggiero. However Bradamante uses her ring to break the spell's power, without yet being ready to forgive Ruggiero. When Angelica and Medoro are married, Orlando is driven mad with jealousy. Ruggiero and Bradamante are reconciled, and, teaming up with Astolfo, they start a plan to save Orlando and defeat Alcina. However it is Orlando himself, in his madness, who moves a statue of Merlin in which Alcina's powers are held. She is immediately defeated and Orlando restored to sanity.



Naive (3CDs) Recorded 2004.

Ensemble Matheus

Jean-Christophe Spinosi (conductor)


Marie-Nicole Lemieux (Orlando); Jennifer Larmore (Alcina);

Veronica Cangemi (Angelica); Philippe Jaroussky (Ruggiero).


This wonderful recording has three of the singers who reunited in Edinburgh under Spinosi's direction. Here he directs his own period-instruments band - in Edinburgh he coaxed wonderfully authentic sounds from the modern-instrument SCO. It is difficult to imagine a better recording of this lovely opera being produced.

The Cast

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