Francesco Micheli is the fourth Italian director to stage a new opera production in the 88-year history of the Glyndebourne Festival. His production of Handel’s Alcina opens tomorrow, 2 July 2022, and will be in the repertoire until 24 August.
The production was originally scheduled for the summer of 2020 but was postponed due to Covid-19.
“Handel created an enchanting and noble world of the chivalrous age of Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso,” says Micheli, “with a work full of magic and special effects. So, I thought of this production as a hymn to what is most magical but also most concrete that I know: the theatre. The world of the waning knightly epic is mirrored in the revue, which experienced its greatest popularity between the 1930s and the 1950s.”
The last Italian invited to create a new production at Glyndebourne was Damiano Michieletto with Leoš Janáček’s Kát’a Kabanová in 2021. Before him came Franco Enriquez with a Così fan tutte in 1971 and Franco Zeffirelli with L’Elisir d’amore in 1968.
Alongside Francesco Micheli for Alcina are Edoardo Sanchi for the sets, Alessio Rosati for costumes, and Bruno Poet for the lighting, with choreography by Mike Ashcroft. The opera is conducted by Jonathan Cohen with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Jane Archibald sings the title role, with Rowan Pierce as Oberto, Samantha Hankey and Svetlina Stoyanova alternating as Ruggiero, Beth Taylor as Bradamante, Soraya Mafi as Morgana, Stuart Jackson as Oronte, and Alastair Miles as Melisso.
Micheli adds, “At a time when our continent is in danger of exploding, it is healthy to adopt as a patron saint a German composer, trained in Italy and established in England.”
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.