After Cape Town Opera’s recent sell out season of L’elisir d’amore, the company’s next highly anticipated production will be George Frideric Handel’s Alcina. The sublime, fantastical opera, a collaboration between Cape Town Opera and the UCT Opera School is guest directed by one of South Africa’s foremost theatre directors, Matthew Wild. The Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra will be conducted by Jeremy Silver.
This story of love and loss, deception and reality provided Handel with the canvas on which to write music which ranges from the achingly beautiful to the heroic and the vengeful. The sheer variety and subtlety of expression in the arias displays a composer at the height of his powers, and keeps our attention riveted as we experience the emotions with the characters while simultaneously marvelling at the skill of the singers and instrumentalists.
Alcina has a riveting storyline full of magic, seduction, betrayal and intrigue and is set on a magical island where the powerful sorceress Alcina lives with her sister Morgana. She enchants and seduces any man who dares to set foot on her island and then transforms them into wild animals, plants or stones once she has she tired of them. A brave heroine by the name of Bradamante travels to the island disguised as a man, in an attempt to rescue her bewitched fiancé Ruggiero. After numerous twists and turns over three acts, all is resolved and true love conquers witchcraft as Alcina’s spells are broken. Ruggiero is reunited with Bradamante and all Alcina’s former lovers return to human form.
Director Matthew Wild together with lighting designer Faheem Bardienand costume designer Maritha Visagie will reimagine the enchanted island as a baroque theatre, where Alcina audience members will be captivated by artfully constructed stage illusions. Behind the proscenium arch, the reality turns out to be far grittier: magic forests are revealed to be nothing more than painted flats, and the characters must grapple with the painful realities of betrayal, abandonment and lost dreams in the unforgiving backstage world.
The stellar cast includes Ané Pretorius and Ondelwa Martins as Alcina the sorceress; Setsoane Jeannette Ntseki and Alida Stoman as her sister Morgana; Christine Bam and Anne-marie Mailovich as Bradamante, Ruggiero’s fiancée; Fanele Mkhwanazi and Shadi Eshraghi as Oberto, a boy searching for his father; Vuyisa Xipu and Sakhumzi Martins as Oronte, Morgana’s lover; and Yonwaba Mbo and Sakhiwe Mkosana as Oronte, Ruggiero’s former tutor. Joining the cast from Vienna in Austria is Megan Kahts who will share the role of Ruggiero the knight with Countertenor Sanele Mwelase.
Alcina is at the Artscape Theatre from 12 to 16 November 2022. Tickets cost from R100 to R340 through Computicket or Artscape Dial-A-Seat on 0214217695, and advance booking is highly recommended. https://tickets.computicket.com/event/alcina/3386997#!