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Opera North - Alcina


New production. On an island paradise, a young man, Ruggiero, has fallen under the spell of a woman, Alcina, who is experiencing real love for the very first time. But on Alcina’s island nothing is as it seems, for she is an enchantress who transforms her discarded lovers into non-human form, and her island is a barren wasteland whose apparent beauty is maintained only by her powers of illusion. When Bradamante, Ruggiero’s fiancée, arrives on the island intent on reclaiming her lost love, Alcina’s magic is tested to breaking point.

This extraordinary tale of deception and disguise, of love and loss, of enchantment and illusion, is told in some of Handel’s most richly inventive music, such as Ruggiero’s regretful farewell to the beauty of Alcina’s island, ‘Verdi prati’.

Opera North's first ever production of one of Handel’s most popular operas is directed by Tim Albery, responsible for a sumptuous revival of Giulio Cesare for Opera North in 2019. It reunites him with Baroque specialist Laurence Cummings, who led the Company’s highly acclaimed production of Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea in 2014.

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Opera North - Alcina ON TOUR

Our review on Opera North - Alcina

Opera North's Alcina - The Lowry, Salford - Friday 11th March 2022 by Lizzie Johnston

Our Rating

Alcina is a supernatural opera set on an enchanted island composed by George Frideric Handel. It’s a tale of deception, seduction, love and loss. All men who set foot on the island fall under Alcina’s spell, but she experiences true love for the first time when knight Ruggiero arrives. Her magic is tested to breaking point when Ruggiero’s fiancée, Bradamente, arrives to rescue him. 


Alcina’s island is a barren wasteland, it’s animals, trees and rocks are in fact her spellbound lovers. The staging reflected this as it was stripped back and simple with a few chairs, a bear rug and video backdrop which helped transform the set from an island paradise into a dark jungle. The movement used in the videos took us on a journey around the island and before we knew it, we were in the “Heart of Darkness”. 


Opera North is a company bursting with talent. The small cast of six allowed every member to have a solo moment and let us enjoy each performer’s voice. The performers didn’t wear microphones and the power they had to have in order to fill the auditorium was next level, and this cast delivered every time. You could hear every line clearly over the orchestra, whether they were belting or singing softly. 


The casting was strong in all areas. Sky Ingram stood in for Márie Flavin for this performance. Ingram’s Alcina is every inch a queen with her grace and presence tied together with Ingram’s stunning vocals. From the moment she first appears, you immediately know it is her island. She’s powerful and seductive, you wouldn’t dare cross her. Ingram delivers drama and vocal contrast in all her arias, giving an all-rounded superb performance. 


There was a contrast from bass to soprano which gave a nice range and vocal balance to the show. Mari Askvik sang opposite Patrick Terry’s Ruggiero as Brandamante, who is disguised as her own brother, Ricciardo. Enchantress Melissa was rewritten from a bartone to a mezzo soprano, played by Claire Pascoe. Fflur Wyn sang as Morgana and Nick Pritchard as Oronte, who are lovers. The orchestra was led by conductor Laurence Cummings and their renditions of Handel’s arias were beautiful. It’s a real treat to listen to a large orchestra with a range of instruments.


It’s the first sustainable performance of this opera with everything from costumes to set being second-hand from other shows. Knowing this helped to understand why some of the costumes didn’t quite fit with the island setting. The gowns and suits were not what you expect to see on a barren wasteland but having been recycled, you can appreciate that they were the closest match possible. Overall there was a theme of monochrome with a dash of sparkle and each costume resembled the character well. 


I’d say this show is for people who enjoy opera and understand it’s art form. There isn’t much dynamic throughout the score which meant there was no obvious tension building at any time. Saying this, the performers and musicians are of extremely high standard with one beautiful aria after another. It’s a chance to enjoy Handel’s Italian pennings and with the English subtitles, you can understand what is happening.


We score Alcina - 7/10

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