Orlando furioso, Opera by A. Vivaldi
Antonio Vivaldi’s dramma per musica Orlando furioso had an exciting life of its own. The grand Italian Baroque composer was inspired by a now-lost score by Giovanni Alberto Ristori from 1713. Vivaldi’s original opera debuted at Venice’s Teatro San Angelo in 1714, shortly after the composer had assumed the role of director at the theatre. Over a decade later, the composer revisited and revamped the work. Thus the second and ultimate version of Orlando furioso debuted in November 1727, also at Teatro San Angelo. Its plot derives from the epic poem of the same name by Ludovico Ariosto. Grazio Braccioli delivered the libretto. Teatro Malibran in Venice provides a rare opportunity to experience Vivaldi’s gift in the operatic genre, a chance not to be missed.
The plot of Orlando furioso is a complicated web of knights, fairies, and other fantasy creatures who are all in love with one another. The hero Orlando is in love with Angelica and jealous of her lover Prince Medoro. The enchantress Alcina grows fond of Orlando’s companion, the knight Ruggiero. Using her magical powers, she woos him and manages to make him forget his lover, the woman warrior Bradamante, even if for a short while. Angelica and Alcina set a trap for Orlando by sending him on a made-up quest. However, instead of falling prisoner to a monster in a cave, the hero sets himself free and plots revenge against the sorceress and her cruel mistress. The frenzy of Orlando, as the opera’s title translates into English, is greater than anything imaginable.
Orlando furioso is a curious amalgamation of early operatic compositional techniques. Both arias and recitatives find place in this dynamic performance, and Vivaldi’s indubitable gift for melody shines through every line. The action is an amalgamation of several mythological stories as interpreted by Ariosto and retold by Braccioli. Teatro Malibran in Venice presents the early opera, in the most complete form that has reached the present day. For lovers of Vivaldi and Italian Baroque, the performance is nothing short of a must.