‘Orlando generoso’ is an opera seria composed by Agostino Steffani, an influential Baroque composer and diplomat of the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Steffani’s opera, first performed in 1691, showcases his mastery of the genre and his ability to blend music, drama, and spectacle.
Performed at the Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston, June 9, 2019
Teresa Wakim, Melissa. Boston Early Music Festival, video overlay Kathy Wittman
‘Orlando generoso’ is based on the epic poem ‘Orlando Furioso’ by Ludovico Ariosto, which tells the story of the knight Orlando and his adventures during the time of Charlemagne. Steffani’s opera focuses on a specific episode from the poem, highlighting the heroic deeds and romantic entanglements of the protagonist.
The opera unfolds through a series of captivating arias, recitatives, and ensembles, showcasing Steffani’s rich melodic style and intricate orchestrations. The music beautifully captures the emotional depth of the characters and the dramatic intensity of their encounters. Steffani’s composition combines elements of Italian and French opera, reflecting his cosmopolitan upbringing and diverse musical influences.
‘Orlando generoso’ was highly regarded during its time and enjoyed considerable success across Europe. Its elaborate staging, stunning costumes, and vibrant choreography contributed to its popularity, making it a grand spectacle for audiences of the Baroque era.
Today, ‘Orlando generoso’ stands as a testament to Steffani’s significant contribution to the opera seria genre and his ability to craft compelling narratives through music.