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While I'm still on the subject of Joan Sutherland and Handel, I decided to post what seems to me one of Handel's best creations: the title heroine's closing Act Two aria in "Alcina".
As per tradition, the aria opens with a long and very dramatic recitative: first, Alcina laments the loss of Ruggiero, the man she loves, who managed to free himself from the sorceress magic. Then, with almost no orchestral accompaniment, we get a furious call to the spirits. What follows is a very striking passage. The spirits are not coming, which causes Alcina great distress. She calls for her servants, she threatens them, but to no avail: she is greeted by deadly silence; the magic has left the sorceress. A lovely lament follows brilliantly set against the urgent playing of the strings. Alcina continues to call for the spirits almost automatically, she comprehends that no one will come to help her. The B section seems to be almost a plea for help: Alcina is desperate, finding her for the first time truly alone. What is very striking, the music makes us deeply feel the anti-heroine's torment: quite possibly she was just a lonely woman who just wanted love but went too far to get it... Anyway, the aria is beautiful.
It helps greatly that Joan Sutherland manages to make much of it: the singing is tonally varied and wonderfully beautiful (the lament always brings tears to my eyes); what's more, it's a very dramatic reading: the recitative is well-acted, while the aria has a very tearful feeling to it; additional ornaments are rather spare, but the vocal quality overshadows this minor flaw. And, for once, the rather echo-y quality of the recording helps highlight the silence of the spirits: Alcina is truly alone, so alone that her voice returns in an endless echo... In a word: perfect :)! Hope you will enjoy :)!
Ah! Ruggiero crudel, tu no mi amasti!
Ah! che fingesti ancor, e m'ingannasti!
E pur ti adora ancor fido mio core.
Ah! Ruggiero crudel! ah, traditore!
Del pallido Acheronte spiriti abitatori,
e della notte ministri di vendetta,
cieche figlie crudeli, a me venite!
Secondate i miei voti,
perché Ruggiero amato
non fugga da me ingrato.
Guarda d'intorno, sospesa.
Ma ohimé! misera!
e quale insolita tardanza?
eh! non m'udite?
Vi cerco, e vi ascondete?
Vi comando, e tacete?
Evvi inganno? evvi frode?
La mia verga fatal non ha possanza?
Vinta, delusa Alcina, e che ti avanza?
Ombre pallide, lo so, mi udite;
e vi celate,
sorde da me:
Fugge il mio bene;
voi lo fermate
deh! per pietate,
se in questa verga,
e voglio frangere,
forza non è.
Ah! Ruggiero crudel, you did not love me!
Ah! that you pretended still, and I deceived you!
And yet you still adore my heart.
Ah! Ruggiero crudel! ah, traitor!
Of pale Acheron inhabitant spirits,
and of the night ministers of revenge,
blind cruel daughters, come to me!
Second my votes,
because Ruggiero loved
do not run away from me ungrateful.
Look around, suspended.
But oh! poor!
and what unusual delay?
eh! do not you hear me?
I look for you, and do you listen?
I command you, and do not you?
Evoke deception? evvi fraud?
Does my fatal rod have no power?
Won, disappointed Alcina, and who advances you?
Pale shadows, I know, you hear me;
and you hide,
deaf from me:
My good escapes;
you stop him
deh! for pity,
if in this rod,
and I want to break up,
force is not.