In 1625 Francesca Caccini created the first opera by a woman composer, La liberazione di Ruggiero dall’ isola d’Alcina. Gilbert Blin staged this production for the Boston Early Music Festival in 2018 and 2023.
Alcina, production of 2018. photo video overlay Boston Early Music Festival Kathy Wittman
NEC’s Jordan Hall, Boston
June 10, 2023
Paul O’Dette, Musical Director
Stephen Stubbs, Musical Director
Gilbert Blin, Stage Director
Robert Mealy, Concertmaster
Melinda Sullivan, Dance Director
Anna Watkins, Costume Designer
Kelly Martin, Lighting Designer
Ruggiero defeats Erifila and arrives at the palace of Alcina, detail. Collection Gilbert Blin
“La liberazione di Ruggiero dall’isola d’Alcina” (The Liberation of Ruggiero from the Island of Alcina) is an opera composed by Francesca Caccini, a prominent Italian composer of the Baroque era. It is considered to be the oldest surviving opera composed by a woman.
The opera, which premiered in 1625, tells the story of Ruggiero, a knight who becomes enchanted and imprisoned on the island of the sorceress Alcina. Melissa on behalf of Ruggiero’s lover, Bradamante, embarks on a journey to rescue him from Alcina’s clutches. Through a series of magical encounters, conflicts, and transformations, the opera explores themes of love, temptation, and the triumph of virtue over deceit.
Francesca Caccini’s “La liberazione di Ruggiero dall’isola d’Alcina” is known for its rich musical tapestry, featuring arias, recitatives, and ensemble pieces that showcase Caccini’s skill as a composer. It combines elements of the traditional Italian madrigal style with the emerging operatic conventions of the time.
Despite being relatively unknown for many years, Caccini’s opera has gained recognition in recent times for its historical significance and musical merits. It serves as a testament to the talent and creativity of a female composer who made a notable contribution to the early development of opera.