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Handel, George Frideric: Alcina
Act 2: Recitative and Aria, “Disgombra il mio pensiero … Mi lusinga il dolce affetto” (Ruggiero)

Roger Pines, Dramaturg, Lyric Opera of Chicago
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Aria Talk1/1/2009

Editor's Note: Aria Talk focuses not on the tried-and-true pieces you undoubtedly already know, but on somewhat off-the-beaten-track arias. The hope is that this music will prove a refreshing musical and interpretive change not only for you, the performer, but also for those hearing you in auditions.
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This aria offers you an opportunity for sustained vocal beauty, exceptional musicality and the noblest possible expressiveness. In Handel’s vast amount of writing for the mezzo range, you won’t find anything more ravishing. Sing it well and you’ll hear contented sighs of pleasure in your audience. The aria’s only disadvantage for auditions is its length, so use it only if you’re under no time constraints.

Ruggiero is on the sorceress Alcina’s island, bewitched by her and in love with her. Bradamante, Ruggiero’s fiancée, arrives in male disguise, searching for her beloved. She eventually reveals her true identity to Ruggiero. Assuming this is one of Alcina’s spells, he rejects the furious Bradamante. Once alone, Ruggiero wonders if she’s really telling him the truth. He then reflects in the aria that his love for her has been revived, yet he remains fearful of deception. Still, if this really is Bradamante — and if he abandons her — then he would himself be a faithless traitor.

After the brief but exquisite introduction, Ruggiero’s voice drops with similar softness into the musical texture. Feel as if you’re floating, singing with as pearly a mezza voce as you can manage, seamless legato and a good integration of the dotted rhythms into the line. The aria will challenge your intonation, in that the line often works itself out through combinations of leaps — fourths, fifths, sixths. The da capo gives opportunities for elegant ornamentation. This aria is really a gem — don’t miss it!

Score: Bärenreiter
Recording: Susan Graham in complete opera, Erato #80233; Teresa Berganza in complete opera, Decca #433723; Della Jones in complete opera, EMI 7 49771 2 (out of print — might be available in second-hand shops)
Timing: 8:00
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