ALCINA Comes to Seattle Opera Next Month

Performances run October 14-28.

By: Sep. 07, 2023
ALCINA Comes to Seattle Opera Next Month

October’s production of Alcina at Seattle Opera shows off Handel at his most enchanting. Showcasing this opera’s wonderful melodies, strong characters, and vocal pyrotechnics for the first time on the Seattle Opera stage, Handel’s story of sorcery and seduction is certain to leave audiences spellbound.

“Alcina is an intense piece with phenomenal music,” said General Director Christina Scheppelmann. “Although it has some fantastical elements to its story, it is, at its heart, a story about love and human relationships. The opera speaks very clearly about the connections between seduction, romance, and power, and what happens when traditional power dynamics are turned on their heads. I think you’ll be surprised at just how strikingly modern this piece is.”

Leading the performance in her Seattle Opera conducting debut is Christine Brandes, whose previous performances as Morgana in Alcina influence her nuanced and informed take on this celebrated Handel opera.

“Being a singer and having been on the other side of the pit is sort of my superpower,” said Brandes, who made her Seattle Opera singing debut as Cleopatra in Handel’s Julius Caesar (’07). “It gives me a much more intuitive relationship with the singers and the ability to react more quickly and subtly to their needs. Alcina is a visceral piece with such fully realized, relatable characters—I hope the audience feels immediately drawn into the emotional landscape of the story and swept along by this amazing music.”

The intimate production by celebrated English stage director Tim Albery, which first played at Opera North in 2022, sets Alcina’s intense emotional drama in a world that evokes the private tropical-island retreats of the rich and famous.

“The small group of people we find on Alcina’s island appears to live a life of pure pleasure and leisure,” said Albery, who also makes his Seattle Opera debut. “But beneath the surface, Alcina manipulates and controls each of her lovers until she is bored by them, then moves on to the next. The abandoned one is left discarded, all humanity gone, an empty shell, a rock, a wild beast. And so it might continue until Alcina falls in love herself; then she and her companions, led by Handel’s glorious, heart-wrenching music, are drawn into the depths of the forest—the heart of darkness—searching desperately for the new dawn which will eventually arrive.”

The rest of the creative team—Scenic and Costume Designer Hannah Clark, Lighting Designer Matthew Richardson, and Video Designer Ian William Galloway—will all be making their Seattle Opera debuts.

The superb cast is made up entirely of tried-and-true Seattle Opera favorites, with soprano Vanessa Goikoetxea (Donna Anna, Don Giovanni, ’21) in the title role, soprano Sharleen Joynt (Amore, Orpheus and Eurydice, ’22) as Morgana, countertenor Randall Scotting (Refugee, Flight, ’21) as Ruggiero, mezzo-soprano Ginger Costa-Jackson (Musetta, La bohème, ’21 and Carmen, Carmen, ’19) as Bradamante, John Marzano (Gastone de Letorières, La traviata, ’23) as Oronte, and Nina Yoshida Nelsen (Khanh, Bound, ’23) as Melissa.

For audiences inspired to go beyond the stage and learn more about the opera industry, Seattle Opera offers a pair of events that explore the experiences of today’s opera professionals. The first, an Opera Talk titled “A Singer’s Journey,” features Seattle Opera’s Resident Artists in conversation about what it takes to become an opera singer, while the second, a Community Conversation titled “Gender Fluidity in Opera,” navigates opera’s long history of subverting gender norms, from castrati to pants roles for women and much more.


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