The libretto of the opera “The Liberation of Ruggiero from the island of Alcina”, set to music by the famous Francesca Caccini in 1625, was commissioned by Ferdinando Saracinelli, another extremely well-established figure at court, who used part of the events narrated by Ludovico Ariosto in his Orlando Furioso, in canti VII and VIII in particular. This print describes the second scene where Melissa, the sorceress who freed Ruggiero from the love spell binding him to the witch Alcina, reaches Alcina’s island on the back of a dolphin. The purpose of the sorceress was to take the paladin back to his intended bride, Bradamante. In fact, the marriage of this pair would be the origin of the House of Este.
Although Alfonso Parigi signs his name as set designer in the prints illustrating the libretto, they were actually the work of his father Giulio, official architect and scenery designer to the Medici court. The role of his son, who was rather young at thee time, would have been limited to etching his father’s designs.